WALTHAM, Mass. -- Bill Kavanaugh, a 2004 graduate of Bentley and currently the director of player personnel for Penn State, has been named the head coach at his alma mater, athletics director Bob DeFelice announced on Friday morning.

“I am excited for the opportunity to lead the football program at my alma mater, a place I have held in high regard since stepping on campus as a freshman,” said Kavanaugh, a native of Dartmouth. “The opportunity to return home to Boston and lead a program with such a great tradition is a dream come true.”

Kavanaugh, a co-captain of Bentley’s 2003 team that earned the program’s first NCAA Division II tournament berth, returns to Bentley with nine years of coaching and administrative experience under his belt, the last six as part of the staff at Penn State, where he worked under Bill O’Brien and Joe Paterno.

“I’m thrilled that Bill has accepted our offer to become our head football coach,” DeFelice said. “He displayed his leadership ability as a team captain 10 years ago and has since grown into an outstanding young man who will be a tremendous leader for our football program and Bentley University.”

Bentley vice president for student affairs Andrew Shepardson said, “It’s already a thrill to welcome back to campus a graduate who has gone out into the world and done great things, and is now returning to contribute to his alma mater.”

“I hope to build on the tradition of playing tough, winning football with focused student-athletes and high character people,” Kavanaugh said. “The standard at Bentley has been set high by coach Yetten, coach Boerman and their staffs.”

Kavanaugh, 31, has been the director of player personnel for the Nittany Lions since April 2012, with his duties including directing all aspects of recruiting, managing a staff that included 14 coaches, a three-person personnel office and 30 interns, and responsibility for the oversight of a 115-player roster.

Before being elevated to that position, Kavanaugh was Penn State’s recruiting coordinator from January 2011-March '12, the team’s wide receivers coach from November '11-January '12 and a graduate assistant coach, working with the running backs, from July '08-January '11.

“Bill Kavanaugh was a tremendous asset to us here at Penn State University,” said O’Brien, who recently completed his second year as head coach at Penn State following five years with the New England Patriots. “He was involved in all facets of our program and I credit him with much of our success in recruiting and all of the things that went on behind the scenes here at Penn State.

“Bill will be a fantastic head coach at Bentley University. Bentley is very lucky to have a guy like Bill Kavanaugh.”

Kavanaugh began his coaching career serving under his father, Bill Kavanaugh, Sr., at Massachusetts-Dartmouth during the 2004 and '06 seasons. He worked with the Corsairs linebackers and special teams during his tenure.

Kavanaugh was a four-year starter on the defensive line for Bentley from 2000-03, helping the Falcons to a 29-5 record during his final three seasons. He finished his career with 149 tackles, including 47.5 for losses and 24.5 sacks. The majority of those sacks came as a junior in 2002 when he shared the NCAA Division II lead with 13.5 and was tied for second in sacks per game.