Pederson out as Athletic Director
Pitt is beginning its search for a new head football coach, but the University isn't just changing coaches.
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced Wednesday night that there will be a change in the leadership of the Athletic Department.
"Before beginning a robust national coaching search, Steve Pederson and I spoke this morning and we mutually agreed that this would be the appropriate time to make a change in athletic department leadership," Gallagher said in an official statement.
"Since arriving at the University in August, I have greatly appreciated my collaborations with Steve. Our athletic department has advanced in many significant ways under his leadership. Steve was an instrumental figure in Pitt's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference and thanks to his efforts our athletic facilities, especially the Petersen Events Center, rival any in the country. I want to thank him for his many important contributions to Pitt and his unwavering commitment to our student-athletes."
Gallagher also announced that Dr. Randy P. Juhl Vice Chancellor for Research Conduct and Compliance will be stepping in as acting Athletic Director, and a search for a new A.D. will begin immediately.
Pederson was initially hired by Pitt in 1996, after which he oversaw the hirings of football coach Walt Harris and basketball coach Ben Howland, the razing of Pitt Stadium, the building of the Petersen Events Center and the move of the football team to Heinz Field and the UPMC facility in the South Side.
In 2002, Pederson left Pitt to be the Athletic Director at Nebraska, his alma mater. His tenure in Lincoln was tumultuous, at best, and he was fired in 2007.
He was re-hired by Pitt Chancellor in November 2007 and has held the post of Athletic Director since. In his second tenure with Pitt, Pederson was instrumental in the University's move to the ACC and the construction of the Petersen Sports Complex. But the last seven years were marked primarily by the struggles of the football program. Following the firing of Dave Wannstedt in 2010, Pederson hired Michael Haywood and then, after Haywood was fired following a legal issue, Todd Graham, only to find himself looking for another head coach in Dec. 2011 when Graham left for Arizona State.
Pederson hired Paul Chryst to replace Graham. Chryst was introduced as head football coach at Wisconsin Wednesday night. Pitt announced Chryst's departure and the change in Athletic Department leadership in the same email to the media.
"With major decisions to be made about the future of football, I thought it was in the best interest of the University of Pittsburgh for Chancellor Gallagher to assemble his own team," Pederson said in the statement. "I am a Pitt and City of Pittsburgh fan, and want what is best for everyone moving into the future. I will miss the daily interaction with our great staff, coaches and student-athletes, but will enjoy watching them accomplish great things. To our friends and supporters, thank you for making this a great home for our family."
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