Source: Dan Mullen tops wish list

Updated: November 29, 2011, 3:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A Penn State trustee and the coach of the four-time defending national champion women's volleyball team will be part of a six-person university committee that will lead the search for fired football coach Joe Paterno's replacement.

The school said in a statement Monday that the committee headed by acting athletic director Dave Joyner would meet this week.

The mix of search committee members is intentional. We're looking for a broad perspective and representation of the entire university.

-- Dave Joyner, head of Penn St.'s
search panel to replace Joe Paterno.

Paterno lost his job after 46 seasons in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Penn State has begun arranging meetings in the search, and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is at the forefront of the Nittany Lions' list of candidates, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

The search committee includes trustee Ira Lubert, the head of private investment management firms; and longtime women's volleyball coach Russ Rose.

Also on the committee are Linda Caldwell, the faculty athletics representative; emeritus communications professor John Nichols, chair of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics; and associate athletic director Charmelle Green.

"The mix of search committee members is intentional," Joyner said Monday night in a separate statement. "We're looking for a broad perspective and representation of the entire university."

This combination of people should help us continue to align our core values in Intercollegiate Athletics with the rest of the academic units."

Paterno, 84, holds the Division I record with 409 career victories. He testified before a grand jury looking into the abuse allegations that a graduate assistant told him in 2002 that he witnessed an incident in the shower in the team locker room. Prosecutors have said Paterno had passed on the information to his superior, athletic director Tim Curley.

Paterno, who is not a target of the investigation, has said specific actions alleged to have occurred in the grand jury report were not relayed to him. Still, the state's top cop criticized the way school leaders handled allegations and said Paterno and other officials had a moral responsibility to do more.

Paterno initially announced his retirement Nov. 9 effective at the end of the season, saying the scandal was "one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more." The trustees fired him anyway, about 12 hours later.

Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley took over on an interim basis, leading Penn State (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) to a 1-2 record since Paterno's firing including a 45-7 loss Saturday to Wisconsin for a berth in the Big Ten title game. The Nittany Lions (9-3) are awaiting a bowl invitation.

Bradley said last week he "certainly would want the permanent job," but that if he doesn't get it he at least wants to look back and say he gave everything he had to help the team.

Some critics have called for Penn State's next coach to have no previous ties to the university. Joyner hasn't ruled out Bradley as a potential candidate, saying all applicants would be considered.

Curley and another school official are scheduled to appear next week at a preliminary hearing after being charged Nov. 5 with perjury and failing to report the 2002 allegation to authorities. Curley went on administrative leave the next day, and Joyner promised changes after taking over as acting athletic director the following week.

The mix of backgrounds of search committee members "should help us continue to align our core values in Intercollegiate Athletics with the rest of the academic units," Joyner said.

Since his firing, Paterno has also been diagnosed with what his family has said is a treatable form of lung cancer. He is handling treatments "very well," his son, quarterback coach Jay Paterno, said after the Wisconsin game.

In other developments Monday, the Joseph V. Paterno Collegiate Coach of the Year Award has been discontinued. In a news release, the Robert W. Maxwell Memorial Football Club said the award, whose lone recipient was Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer in 2010, was being cancelled, effective immediately.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad was used in this report.