House Speaker Robert DeLeo's office pushed back Wednesday evening on a report that he would be stepping down to take a job at Northeastern University after a day in which speculation ran rampant on Beacon Hill that the Winthrop Democrat's 12-year reign might be ending.
DeLeo's office still has not said whether he has plans to step down or if he will run for a seventh term next month as speaker and continue what is already the longest tenure in the top job in the House of Representative in state history.
A spokeswoman for DeLeo, however, denied a report from NBC 10 Boston that the speaker was leaving for a job at his alma mater Northeastern University.
"The Speaker has had no such talks with, much less does he have any agreement with, Northeastern University," spokeswoman Catherine Williams said in a one-sentence statement to the News Service.
Williams did not respond to follow up questions about his future, and DeLeo also had not filed any ethics disclosures with the House clerk's office or the State Ethics Commission as of Wednesday afternoon that might reveal his interest in outside employment.
DeLeo left his office around 7 p.m. Wednesday, exiting the building through a back door to his car on Mount Vernon Street, clad in a Bruins cap and accompanied by House legal counsel James Kennedy. He did not comment or respond to several questions about whether he would be stepping down.
Speculation about DeLeo's future reached a fever pitch on Wednesday as House members gathered both remotely and in person at the State House to begin considering amendments to the annual state budget returned by Gov. Charlie Baker.
While it has not been uncommon in recent years for chatter about DeLeo's to turn up in volume near the start of a new session, the intensity this year has been higher, according to people who work inside and outside the State House, and people are paying it more attention.
First elected in 1990, DeLeo, 70, has spent 30 years of his professional career in the House, and what he would do next remains unknown. The speaker is an attorney, and though some close to him don't believe he would want to go into lobbying, he has often been linked to a move to Northeastern when his time in the Legislature comes to an end.