Welcome Dr. Lyke. Now Get To Work!

Here is a news video bit that shows a little of Heather Lyke’s personality… full video at end

As any Pitt fan not living under a log somewhere already knows we hired a new Athletic Director yesterday… Ms Heather Lyke from Eastern Michigan University.  Her accomplishments there appear to be constructive in nature, both physically in facility building, and within the academic and competition arenas.

Her list of accomplishments is long and impressive and it is hard to read between the lines when you are looking at someone’s resume that they wrote themselves.  That isn’t to say it is ‘doctored’ or anything untoward, just that this info is what she herself released.

So one of the things to do is going to the ground level media and see what her university’s fans feel about the news that she’s leaving them.  Not surprisingly everything I could find was positive with one or two vague references to some sort of ‘problems’ in the department.

Here is an example of the ‘problem’ from the Detroit Free Press newspaper:

The move comes as the football team comes off its best season in decades, including a trip to the Bahamas Bowl. But there also has been a renewed debate about athletics at Eastern Michigan in the past year, including a HBO Real Sports segment on athletic department spending that was critical of the school. A number of faculty and students have called for the university to drop out of Division I football — either completely dropping the program or moving down in division, which would decrease the cost. In recent years, Eastern Michigan, with about 21,000 students, has spent more than $27 million a year from the university’s general fund on sports.

But that is exactly the same type of opinions that you would find at 90% or so of universities that have major sports teams (football and basketball) and academicians who dislike spending what they thing should be academic money on sports .We hear it at Pitt from time to time also.

Here is a clip from that HBO show “Arms Race” featuring EMU and the subject discussed above.  Basically this isn’t a black mark or anything negative in any way regarding her hire – it seems to me they could have done a show on any college that had major sorts and the gist would be the same.

So I think what we are seeing from people much more familiar with her and her works in the past is overwhelmingly positive.

She appears to be a good fit in all respects for Pitt and I welcome her to the world of Pitt fandom also.  She is aggressive and accomplished at in-fighting, with resulting consensus building, and that is what we need at Pitt.  For too long we have had factions of Pitt athletics pulling apart rather than coming together.

Which is what Steve Pederson made his not so sterling reputation as doing – the pulling apart side that is.  When you have the long-term mutual dislike and no respect for each other as Pederson and Dave Wannstedt had it bleeds out and infects the whole of the department.  Paul Chryst then Scott Barnes inherited that mess and they both helped stabilized things. Now Heather Lyke can focus on moving the departmental relationships forward and strengthening them.

What is Job #1 for her now that she has her office furniture in place?  Without a doubt it is athletic fundraising which is the most important job any athletic director has these days.

The Free Press revealed at the beginning of March, Lyke’s plans to spend $35 million to improve the campus athletic facilities. Athletic department officials have been quietly raising funds for the improvements and have $9 million of the total cost committed already pending board approval of the entire project. That amount includes $6 million from one, unnamed donor, which would be the largest cash gift ever given to the university. How the remainder would be funded hasn’t been determined yet.

In 2013 Pitt ranked #62 of the then 65 BCS schools in athletic revenue.  Since then of course the NCAA created the FBS/FCS designations but the base info is about the same – Pitt lags woefully behind in athletic monies received.

Here is an excellent article by the Washington Post on the subject; note that Pitt was one of a few universities who did not to release the financial information.

 

Top Fundraisers

That is because “as a state-related university, Pitt receives an annual, non-preferred financial appropriation from the state and offers discounted tuition to students who are Pennsylvania residents. In addition, Pitt’s Board of Trustees includes a minority of state-appointed representatives. Legally, however, state-related universities are separate and private entities, in contrast to state-owned schools. This public-private hybrid system of higher education is unique in the nation. 

Which means they can tells us ‘None of your business‘ and keep the books closed.

That said there are some numbers out there for the latest 2015-2016 fiscal year that are somewhat surprising. These are official NCAA numbers thus public.

For example it costs over twice as much to field men’s BB as it does woman’s as seen at $940K for the ladies and $1,900K for the men.

I have to ask why that is.  We play basically the same schools as the women do so traveling expenses are probably somewhat alike.  But I’ll bet the big difference is in the quality and comfort of the players clubhouses.  Maybe I’ll get a chance someday to find that out in person.

operating expenses

Here is the latest breakdown for Pitt’s male and female athlete participants… you can see that males outnumber the females by a 284 – 215 score.

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Not keeping up with the Jones’ in the ‘public’ monies garnered by Pitt sports is why private donation fundraising is so damned important.  Lyke’s getting $6 million from a single donor is damn impressive.  I won’t hesitate to say Pitt hasn’t gotten that much from one person in the history of Pitt sports.  Correct me if I am wrong with that but that is a ton of money for a small school folks.

The Pitt News ran a good article on this issue last year…

With the second-largest alumni base in the ACC, Pitt has potential for high donor engagement. But given Pitt’s 300,000 living alumni, athletic donations are meager — the University’s athletic donor engagement rate is the second lowest in the ACC, according to Pitt Athletics spokesperson E.J. Borghetti.

In 2015, 25,062 alumni donated a total of $29,260,124 to the University overall. Out of those 25,062 people, 8,000 donated to the athletic department.

The engagement rate was about 2.6 percent last year, close to half the average percentage for ACC donor engagement, Athletic Director Scott Barnes said at a town hall meeting in January. The number of alumni donors at Pitt has decreased every year since 2012, when 25,728 people donated to the University.

My last take on this hire. I like it.  That said I give her a max of three years at Pitt before she moves on to greener pastures and goes for the bigger money. This hire, while good, is typical of Pitt’s financial intentions in that we hire someone withing our (low) budget then allow them to leave when we don’t match higher salary offers later on.

For all the mushy-talk about his having to get back to the West Coast for family reasons no one talked about the fact that he’ll be making at the very least  around $400K more base salary there than he was here.

Given the fact that we are going to pay Lyke less than Barnes was getting (and we sure will) then don’t be surprised when the big offers come her way and she takes them.

Fans don’t like to hear this but it has been proven over and over again that Pitt is a resume’ building job for the majority of coaches and ADs hired here.  Because of that, and because Pitt doesn’t have the incoming money other schools do, that is going to be a Pitt fact of life for some time.

She herself has to do the hard fundraising work toward making Pitt able to give herself the pay raise she deserves. If she does that, and does it well, she could make herself a rich woman.

Until then I am going to have an optimistic outlook that she has the chops to get things moving and done well in short order.

Well Heather, good luck, welcome aboard and go get those dollars!!!

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45 thoughts on “Welcome Dr. Lyke. Now Get To Work!

  1. Well guys – had my 1st request to refund a donation which I am doing today. I told you I was serious and would do so. Whoever else wants their money back because of the ‘limitations’ imposed on the comments just send me an email and I’ll get a check out ASAP.

    BTW – I did ask the poster to stay on the POV but apparently he had enough of me.

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  2. University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director Introduction
    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and New Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke

    PATRICK GALLAGHER: Good afternoon, everybody. If this was a sporting event, that just wouldn’t cut it. (Laughs). But good afternoon, everybody. It is my pleasure to be here today and welcome our new athletic director, Heather Lyke. This is a very exciting day, and in just a moment I’m going to get into Heather’s background and explain why I’m so excited. But I want to start first by acknowledging the hard work it took to get to today.

    Let me start first and foremost with our search committee. We had 12 individuals representing an entire cross-cut of the athletics and academic community. We had staff, coaches, faculty members, administrators, and most importantly student-athletes. And I benefited from receiving this well-balanced and deep look at an outstanding group of candidates. And I have to tell you we would not be here today if it wasn’t for that committee. So to all of you who are on the committee, my deepest thanks. I also want to extend a special thanks to Randy Juhl. We should have a saying here at Pitt that when in doubt, call a pharmacist (laughs). And you all know two years ago Randy Juhl was, again, in this dual-hatted role, both our acting athletic director and chair of our search committee, and we know what a great job he did at that time. But this time he had to come out of a well-earned retirement to do it again. So Randy, you have our deepest thanks. You certainly have earned our gratitude for all the hard work you’ve done.

    And finally I want to think Glenn Sugiyama and Pat Richter and the entire team that supported our search. They worked tirelessly around the country to identify those potential candidates and ensure that our committee had access to truly outstanding pool. So Glenn, I want to thank you for everything that you did as well.

    Let me start with where we’re at. Following Scott Barnes’ tenure it was important to me that we were look to go find somebody who could take that new sense of direction and momentum in our athletics program and now get results. I was looking for somebody that was first and foremost focused on the success of the student-athletes. That had to be the starting point. I was looking for somebody who bought into a comprehensive definition of success. That means winning championships. That means graduating with at least one Pitt degree, and that means ultimately leading successful lives.

    I was looking for somebody who was going to work with our coaches and our staff. Our coaches are the ones who work most directly with the student-athletes, and our staff and their success, and I was looking for somebody who would be a great partner, who would ensure that they were supported and could do everything that they need to do. That includes the people, the tools and the facilities to support the success of our student-athletes. I was looking for a great leader, somebody who was passionate, hard working and results focused and somebody who was a great partner.

    Athletics at Pitt is a team sport, and I was looking for somebody who was going to engage our alumni, our partners, organizations like the Steelers, our fans, our ticket holders, our boosters to bring the entire panther nation along to support this great endeavor. And in Heather you will see we found all of those qualities.

    Now, I should point out before we go in we’re also making a bit of history today, and this week — and this is a coincidence, Heather. You don’t know this yet. Our student government board had designated this women empowerment week, and issued note that in the 106 years that Pitt has had a full-time athletic director this is the first time we’ve had a woman run athletics here at Pitt. And so a new barrier has been broken.

    Let me now define what I saw in Heather. Today we are welcoming Heather Lyke and her family, husband David Catalano and her children, Elle, Sophie and Eli, welcome to Pittsburgh, welcome to Pitt. We know you’re going to love it here and you’re going to see a whole city make sure that you sink some deep roots and this feels like home for you.

    Heather has her own roots from Canton, Ohio. They grew up about 100 miles from here, and both of her parents and David still live in Canton. In fact, she’s joined today by her parents Jerry and Marilyn. So welcome, too, as well.

    Heather was a natural athlete growing up, and I understand she has shared some of that genetic skills with her children. And she herself became a scholarship student-athlete at the University of Michigan, playing first base on the softball team, becoming a captain eventually for that team and leading that team to a Big 10 championship. She was an accomplished student, earning her bachelor of science in education from Michigan and then going on to earn her law degree from the University of Akron. She has worked in college athletics for over 22 years and in a whole host of roles, from broadcasting, marketing, compliance, sports administration and in a number of organizations, including the NCAA, the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University, and of course, the last three-and-a-half years as director of athletics and vice president at Eastern Michigan University.

    And I will tell you her resume is incredibly impressive, and it’s long. So I’m not going to give you the whole thing today, but I want to touch on a few high points. In her role at Eastern Michigan University, she oversaw 21 sports and 550 student-athletes. She was a turnaround specialist, coming into a university that wanted to see success in its programs, and success followed. She saw dramatic improvement in Eastern Michigan’s programs over her tenure. Football was revitalized, transitioning from a 1 and 11 record to 7 and 6 and earning their first post-season bowl game in nearly 30 years. It was the largest win-loss turnaround in Division I FBS football. And you know, that success wasn’t just on the field. That football program boasted the top team GPA in the MAC for two consecutive years. Under her leadership at Eastern Michigan that university moved to the top of the MAC, a very competitive, mid-major conference, immediately, with 13 MAC team championships, 71 MAC individual champions, over 200 all-MAC student-athletes and over 300 academic all-MAC honorees and 17 MAC Coach of the Year awards. The academic achievements set new records for the university with its highest graduation success rate and earning the highest term and cumulative GPAs in program history.

    She saw a 51 percent increase in fund raising performance over her tenure there, setting new records in fund raising for both the number of donors involved and the amount of cash received and included the largest gift ever given to the university. And her programs were recognized for excellence, earning the MAC Cartwright Award for overall program achievements and academics, athletics and citizenship and the MAC Jacoby Award for excellence in female athletics, and an interesting one, Texas A&M Laboratory For the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics, the EM Cup for excellence in management and the most results per dollar which is a fascinating efficiency. They were the first out of 128 FBS schools. She’s a recognized leader nationally, having served on a variety of committees, including the NCAA men’s lacrosse committee and many others. And so you can see from this resume Heather has a proven track record of getting things done.

    But I will tell you now what the resume won’t show and what we saw in that interview by the search committee and my experience. In Heather you are going to see somebody who is incredibly passionate, a dynamic leader with a vision that Pitt can dominate our conference and win championships, graduate our students at the highest level and ensure student success. That passionate commitment is followed by an unsurpassed work ethic and an ability to get things done. She is committed to working closely with our coaching staff to ensure their success, and she realizes that this is a team sport and she brings all of us from the university, university administrators, our board, our donors and other stakeholders. I think she is an outstanding fit for the University of Pittsburgh. I think she’s going to take us to new levels. And so it is a great honor and a great privilege for me to welcome Heather Lyke as our newest athletic director for the University of Pittsburgh.

    HEATHER LYKE: Well, good afternoon. Thank you very much. I am honored to be here today to accept the position as your director of athletics at the University of Pittsburgh. And I want to thank everyone who was involved in the search process, the members of the athletic department, our coaching staff as well as the entire search committee for the time that they spent with me. Your keen insights and thoughtful feedback about what makes Pitt attractive and what you believe we can accomplish here helped me make my decision to come to the University of Pittsburgh.

    And thank you to Glenn Sugiyama from DHR. You and your team are first class, and it has been an honor to get to know you.

    You know, we don’t know each other yet, and I look forward to building a relationship with you. Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about me. Throughout my career I was fortunate to work for three legendary athletic directors. They influenced me, and they continue to influence me. And here’s how. Bob Goin at the University of Cincinnati, he taught me about hard work, accountability and building genuine relationships, and I bring those things to Pitt. No. 2, Andy Geiger at Ohio State, he was a visionary and influential leader. He demonstrated integrity when he said that the decisions we make impact the lives of other people’s children, other people’s children. This is an incredible responsibility to carry with us, and I will carry it every day at Pitt. And then there’s Gene Smith, my mentor at Ohio State. And he continues to provide guidance for me in my years as an athletic director. Gene has challenged me, developed me as a leader and given me the opportunity to learn from him. He paved the way and is an outstanding mentor to so many in the business, and I am blessed to be one of them. And I bring all of these gifts to Pitt.

    I’ve spent the last three-and-a-half years at Eastern Michigan University where as a team along with our staff and coaches, you know, we built champions. And just a word to the EMU folks, always believe that we have the power to change lives every day. So you see I didn’t get here alone, and without the support and guidance of Bob and Andy and Gene and without the leadership experiences I’ve had and the colleagues and numerous friends in the business and all the coaches and student-athletes I’ve had the privilege to serve, I would not be here today.

    And a most important thank you to Chancellor Gallagher. From the time I walked into the interview room, I felt an instant connection. I listened to a leader who I wanted to have the chance to work for. And I’ll let you in on something. You know, Chancellor Gallagher shared with me athletics is in our DNA at Pitt, and we want it to be a tremendous source of pride. And more importantly, we want our student-athletes to be proud graduates and champions at Pitt. He has great expectations for the university, and I am honored to be on his team. After the interview I left Pitt with an unbelievable amount of respect for him and most importantly trust. I want to be a part of his innovative vision, and I’m confident we can work together to build a winning culture and winning teams at Pitt.

    As for my journey, athletics is in my DNA, too. I was born and raised 100 miles from here in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My parents were both college athletes and my brother, too. And they’re here today. My experience started at the University of Michigan playing first base for Carol Hutchins. She probably only recruited me because I was left-handed and fast, but smart enough to know that she could teach me a lot about the game of softball and more importantly about the game of life. And so I fell in love with everything about intercollegiate athletics and what it represents. It’s an environment filled with, you know, discipline, organization and teamwork. And after finishing law school, I knew that it was an industry that had given me so much, and I wanted to give back.

    And here’s what drew me to the University of Pittsburgh. No. 1, the people. The opportunity to serve incredible people with integrity. No. 2, the tradition, 230 years of tradition, yet a place filled with an innovative spirit and vision. And I honor this tradition and yet I’m inspired to innovate and get better at it every day.

    No. 3, the expectations. It’s a preeminent university with academic prestige, and it’s also a platform for our coaches and our 475 student-athletes to compete for ACC and national championships.

    And fourth, it’s the belief. It’s the challenge of instilling a belief that we can compete with the best. When we wear the blue and gold, we’ll wear it with pride. We’ll expect to win and we’ll prepare for success.

    When I thought about this opportunity, I could not help but get excited to be at Pitt. I kept telling myself, if you get to cross that bridge, it’s going to be an extraordinary opportunity. Well, as you know, our city is filled with hundreds of bridges, and as I drove through the Fort Pitt Tunnel across the Fort Pitt Bridge, the view took my breath away. And I haven’t even done it at night yet. Right? And as I crossed the bridge, I could not help but think about where I had been and where I get to go. And more importantly, I couldn’t help think about the extraordinary people who have impacted by life and the opportunity to expand the huddle and impact more.

    People matter. And a good friend and a head football coach once told me that, you know, Heather, facilities are really important, but the reality is if you don’t trust the guy on the right of you and believe in the guy on the left of you, you’re never going to win championships. And so I believe the same is true about our athletic department. We have to build a trust and a belief in each other that in order to build winning teams and a winning culture it has got to be there.

    As your athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh we’ll have three primary goals. One, to serve our student-athletes. We’re going to surround them with the absolute best coaches and teachers we can. We’ll be committed to them to having an opportunity to earn a meaningful degree at Pitt, or degrees at Pitt. And we’ll want them to win championships and we’ll develop them into the leaders who become proud alumni of the university.

    Secondly, we need to make sure that our coaches have the resources necessary to be successful, and we need to look for creative ways to advance their programs for success. And third, and most importantly, we’ve got to create an environment of comprehensive excellence. And here’s what I mean by comprehensive excellence. Everybody who touches this program impacts the lives of our student-athletes. Just think about it. Every single person in our facilities staff, the sports medicine team that treats our student-athletes, the fans who come and cheer loudly, who buy script Pitt gear and the donors who invest and believe in our vision. We cannot do this alone, and I look forward to crossing each bridge to build a championship culture together.

    Thank you for the opportunity to be here. We are thrilled to call Pitt our home. And I can’t wait to get started. Hail to Pitt. Thank you.

    Q. Heather, I was wondering, the interview process is obviously very complicated and very intense. I was wondering what specific things you liked about the university during — or that you got to know during the process and what things you thought, hey, maybe I can change that if I do get this job?

    HEATHER LYKE: I think the things that I liked about the university which I needed to find out on the interview, the importance of who you work for matters to me. And so the quality of the chancellor, the chance to build a relationship with him and get to know him was very important. A line of leadership at a university, we can’t do it alone. The faculty, the staff, the campus environment has all got to be a part of the solution to building a successful winning culture here. So that was important. The leadership is primary and incredibly important to me. As for what you have a chance to build upon, it’s an incredible brand, and you have a chance to be on a platform to compete for ACC and national championships. And the only question is people say how are you going to do that? Well, why not? How aren’t we going to do it? And so I think it’s an incredible opportunity to compete at that level with our student-athletes.

    Q. There are a lot of positives with this job, as you just mentioned. What do you do as the biggest changes that will offset those positives such as the brand? What are the challenges that you’ll face?

    HEATHER LYKE: I think the challenges that you face is believing, you know, instilling a belief at a place — you know, I think that there’s been strong tradition and there’s a history and there’s a lot of pride. It might be a little bit hidden, but you have a chance to instill that level of belief, to analyze, there’s nothing that can prevent you from going out and having the level of confidence that you need to win at this level. So to me it’s about analyzing, taking the time to find out what our coaches need to have success and building a team that is committed to do that and helping them.

    Q. How important is it to build the football program as part of the athletic department. At Eastern Michigan that was the big key for you and kind of the vision of what you were trying to do with the department.

    HEATHER LYKE: Yeah, the football program is — it undoubtedly gets a huge amount of attention, and it’s an economic engine at times for an athletic department. I do believe in the importance of comprehensive excellence, and we have 19 teams here, and if we’re going to wear blue and gold, we want to expect to win. And so we’re going to prepare to have that level of success across the board.

    Football, you know, winning is contagious. Confidence is contagious. And so I think that it will breed upon within the athletic department the more teams that you have competing at a higher level and it will continue to grow.

    Q. You’ll be the third AD here in I guess the past three years. What kind of stability do you feel like you can bring here, and I guess long-term, how do you view your role here and know what you can do here?

    HEATHER LYKE: You know, absolutely. I think it’s one of the things that attracted me to the position. I’ve been very strategic and selective about opportunities that have come and fortunate in this particular case that it’s a perfect fit for me professionally and personally. And you know, to have the opportunity to work at the quality of institution of this nature, the quality of leader of this particular university and the opportunity to be on a stage and on a platform where coaches compete at the highest level is very attractive to me. And then personally, it’s a place where we want to call home. We have three kids and it’s a chance to put roots down and create memories here and be a part of the culture in the community and the city.

    Q. In your years at Eastern Michigan, what are some of the things that you learned and experienced that you can only experience as an athletic director, and how do you feel the experience of being an athletic director contributed to you being a desirable fit for the University of Pittsburgh. And Chancellor Gallagher, if you could comment on having actual athletic director experience as a part of the selection process as well.

    HEATHER LYKE: I would say that, you know, a lot of times when you’re coming up into the business and you have the opportunity to learn, and again, I mentioned the leaders that I’ve learned from and arguably I think they’re the best of the best. But ultimately you’ve got to sit in the chair and make the decisions. And I believe that the last three and a half years have proven my ability to be a transformative and visionary leader. We set out a vision to build that football program and to turn it into something that would instill pride in a university that was dying for it without a vision, without a plan. And so I think the evidence of the success speaks to that, and it really gave me the opportunity to build a team that believed and headed in that direction and followed us along the way as far as the vision of where we wanted to take that program. And the chance to build your own team and make an impact is really I think what the experience is all about.

    PATRICK GALLAGHER: Yeah, you know, it was not a requirement. We certainly looked at candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds. But I would say it would be an uphill climb to not have that experience. There’s a difference between supporting decision makers and being one. The kind of learning and things you deal with when it’s your decision in the end that matters and it’s your staff that you’ve put together that matters is quite different from when you’re part of somebody else’s leadership team. I think in the end all of us draw from all of those experiences, but I think there’s elements that are simply unique with that sort of hard learning curve that you get when you’re in that leadership position.

    Q. I guess just can you take us sort of through the process of when you found out that you were the choice and sort of who you’ve met thus far and basically just what the last, I don’t know, 12 to 24 hours have been like for you getting started?

    HEATHER LYKE: Sure. I’ll say that anytime you get a call on St. Patrick’s Day from a gentleman named Patrick Gallagher might be a good sign. (Laughs). And so anyway, late Friday night on St. Patrick’s Day I got a call from the chancellor offering me the opportunity to be the next athletic director. And I accepted. And since then it has just been a whirlwind of excitement and anxiousness to get here. You know, I can’t belabor the world of Eastern Michigan because those people mean a whole lot to me, and they know that, and they’re in great hands and in a great position. But I feel the draw to come here and have — and I’m just honored to have the opportunity to make an impact. And so it’s been nothing short of exciting and I’m just thrilled to be here today. I couldn’t get — I don’t know how much I’ve slept in the last two days. It’s not been a lot. And it’s not because I’ve had — it’s just your mind and you’re so excited. So it’s been — I’m really excited to be here.

    Q. With your marketing background, given some of the good wins that your football team got this year and some of the positive momentum they have moving forward, how do you feel it’s best able to be capitalized on in terms of attendance at Heinz Field? Did you ask a lot of questions about that in that regard during the interview process, and chancellor, if I could for you as well, how much did you try to glean from Heather what she had in plan during that process of the interview and her thoughts moving forward to help that?

    HEATHER LYKE: It’s a good question. You know, the challenge of being in Pittsburgh in a professional market and trying to develop a strong identity is incredibly important. I think it’s also important to develop a strong partnership with those professional organizations, and I look forward to that. And the reason being is you get a chance to — I mean I see them as partners and an opportunity to connect and build relationships and find out and be innovative with them. You know, find out what they’re doing and what is working and study that and build upon it. We’ll have to analyze it and how does it fit for the University of Pittsburgh and our football program. But there’s a whole lot of good ideas. They do some tremendous things, and I think we can learn and work together on some creative ways to do things and innovative ways to do things different. The experience of coming to Heinz Field for a University of Pittsburgh football game should be unique and remarkable. And so we’ve got to work hand in hand and recognize what they’re doing and how do they build from that and then we’ve gotta develop our own identity as well.

    PATRICK GALLAGHER: Yeah, you know, it’s a vital issue for our success, right, both from the business side and also from the success of our sports programs. Every coach will tell you — I’ve heard it from Coach Narduzzi. I’ve heard it from Kevin and Susie, when those stands are full our teams play better and our program does better. And so it was a big part of the interview process. I wanted to know how candidates thought about this issue. We have unique aspects in the Pittsburgh market that — with a community that expects to win and is used to seeing winning teams on the field. And also changes nationally in how people are consuming sports, looking at sports and we see those trends in attendance. What impressed me about Heather wasn’t that she had the answer. I think this is going to be an experimental science. We’re going to try things and she’s a real innovator and was really excited about taking a look at the things we can do to create that unique and special fan experience that you couldn’t get anywhere else unless you came to the game. And we’ll just keep working that till we get it right. Like I said, it’s vital to our success.

    Q. To kind of piggyback off the football attendance, the idea of an on-campus stadium has been kicked around the last few years, and with your commitment at Eastern Michigan to build new facilities is that something you’d look at down the road if the opportunity presented itself?

    HEATHER LYKE: You know, I think I’d have to get into the job and understand where we are from a facilities standpoint. You know, I came from just from one place to another. I really haven’t even been very much on campus. But the reality is we’ve got to assess where the priorities are, and it’ll take a little time to find out exactly where the planning is. And we’ve gotta work in collaboration with the rest of the university as well to find out where we fit within the university’s vision and strategic plan and facilities master plan and then what are our greatest needs in priority from a facilities standpoint of the athletic department to continue to elevate across the board.

    PATRICK GALLAGHER: I’ll just say between Heather’s job and my job the big difference is it took me one week before I got that question. (Laughs).

    Q. We heard and we can see the various positions you’ve had within college athletics and athletics in general. How did the different positions that you’ve held those various experiences kind of combine to prepare you to take on a job like this?
    HEATHER LYKE: You know, I think that people matter. Relationships matter. And I grew up in a world of compliance, and you know, people — that’s not very traditional necessarily to get to the athletic director chair. But in the world of compliance I think the greatest skill set you learn is the ability to get along and problem solve for your coaching staff and the whole administrative staff. And it’s also to build a relationship with everybody within the athletic department and those outside of the athletic department. So you have to connect with donors and alumni and educate them about that and you’ve got to connect with the facilities staff and your equipment staff. So you build this unbelievable skill to get along — to build relationships with people in a very genuine and meaningful way. And so I think that foundation allowed me to continue to grow within the athletic department and take on different challenges and responsibilities.

    Q. Heather, how important is it to build on the fund raising platform that’s kind of been emphasized the last couple of years here since Scott was here. And Chancellor Gallagher, her experience at Eastern Michigan with the fund raising, how important was that when it came down to making the decision for the hire?

    HEATHER LYKE: Yeah, I would say that fund raising is an essential responsibility of the athletic department, the athletic director. And it’s something I — you know, we love to do. It’s about, again, building relationships, sharing your vision and people who care about the University of Pittsburgh and the Pitt athletic program, how they can help you continue to build upon that vision. Outside financial resources are essential and, you know, we want them to — we want to conduct donors back in a meaningful way and give them experiences that they might not otherwise have. And I would say that everybody in the athletic department and everybody at our university we’re all fund raisers. We’re all talking about the extraordinary things that are happening on campus, both academically and athletically. And in order to do those extraordinary things and compete at a certain level, you need additional resources. And you know, I love to build those relationships, talk about what we’re doing. It’s really a result of what the coaches and student-athletes are doing on a — and sharing that knowledge.

    PATRICK GALLAGHER: Well, you know, it’s not a surprise that fund raising is a major part of life in the university. It’s the way we broaden the base of support and let ourselves do more to support our students and our programs without it being on the backs of either state funding or tuition.

    I would say that the business side of the athletic director’s job is probably one of the most complex in the university, and some of that has to do with the complexity of the business model for athletics. You’ve got, in addition to fund raising and institutional support, you’ve got ticketing and merchandise and TV revenue and all of that has to work together. But the fund raising piece is important to us. It’s an area where I’ve felt consistently that we can do much better than we’ve done. We have the fanbase that supports these programs. They want to contribute and make a difference, and I think if we can provide those opportunities, we can do that. And in doing so I think we can give our coaches and student-athletes the tools they need to be successful and to go get after those championships that Heather is talking about.

    Q. One of the first things Scott did when he got here was to create the fan experience committee, and I was wondering if under your leadership that will continue, and if so, why do you think it’s important to keep fans engaged with your program?

    HEATHER LYKE: Well, I’m not familiar with the committee, but I’ll certainly learn about it and recognize that it’s vital to understand the fan experience. And for us not to listen and learn from those who are coming to our events would be remiss. And so we’ve done similar things at my previous school where you have to get feedback from alumni, from season ticket holders, from people who have been coming for a long time, from former student-athletes who were a part of the program and now coming back. You know, their perspective is different than ours, and so the beauty of that is having a diversity of understanding of what that experience has been like and how do you continue to make it better.

    Q. With you becoming now I believe just the fifth woman athletic director at a power five program, you’ve obviously already been an athletic director at Eastern Michigan, but can you speak on the feeling of pride you take on now or has it kind of already worn off?

    HEATHER LYKE: I don’t know that it wore off. No, you know, of course there’s a tremendous amount of pride to aspire, you know, to encourage people to aspire to the highest levels of leadership that you can, in any industry. And you know, I thank and appreciate all of those many, many women who have come before me and the support that they continue to provide. And you know, I’ll just say that I think both men and women allow for those opportunities to happen, and you know, I worked for three men who I wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t challenged me and pushed me and seen the level of leader that they saw in me. So I think all of us working together have to continue to enhance diversity across the board, men, women and in a racial sense as well, you know, an opportunity to give people chances to grow and develop at the highest levels that they aspire to do.

    You Know???? (That was me.)

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  3. Quick note. John Peterson and his wife donated 10 million to help build “The Peterson Events Center” The Cost center was also built with donation money. Don’t think it was 6 million though.

    If not being allowed to swear and act disrespectful and “limitations” is such a problem for someone that’s really a shame. Hate to lose a POV friend.

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  4. Three priorities exist for the major sports teams : (a) straighten out the men’s basketball program, (b) Find a way to improve the women’s basketball program, (3) Improve attendance in the three major sports (which may be an impossible given how our fans are (Duke football game) – which may lead to Narduzzi getting frustrated and leaving (and you really can’t blame him)

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  5. Reed

    Thanks for this. I am way behind on reading the posts. Will try to catch up.

    You confuse me, which is easy to do. What you wrote yesterday (which I only skimmed) seemed to slam the hire for being cheap. This post (which I also skimmed) seems to like the hire—or at least not slam it.

    For what it is worth, I like her as our new AD. I bet that she will be a great fundraiser. Who can say no to a woman? 🙂

    H2P

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  6. I’ve written this before …. I have friends and a family member (cousin) who are Pitt alums and will think nothing of paying a higher price to attend Steeler games, yet rarely, if ever, will attend Pitt games. This apparently is reflected by many (if not most) alums and Pitt athletics will continue to suffer .. in both lack of attendance and lack of donations.

    I don’t know the answer.. and can only wish Ms Lyke all the luck in the world. IMO she is qualified and will do a credible job in fundraising … but will it be enough? On the other issue … I wouldn’t think that she, or anyone else who was to be hired, to immediately let go of the men’s BB coach.

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  7. @Reed I’m not Knockin’ your insecurity 🙂 🙂 —- but as well, you seem to associate yourself with PITT altogether and that’s not the way it is.

    Pitt can be a straight-up National Champ’ in Football and Basketball (Imagine freakin’ Ho-Dunk State of Kentucky’s —–> University Louisville winning a BCS game with Teddy Bridgewater then the NCAA Men’s Champ….only, X times 1,000 🙂 🙂 🙂 )

    Just….don’t be SO NEGATIVE……and…..WHINY!!!…all the time. lol

    —How do I call in !!!!! lol

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  8. Reed, if she IS good, and Pitt DOES let her get away after 3 years for a more money, then I’m done with them. Our instability is ridiculous. If the University doesn’t care, why should I?

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  9. Dude — this is a Direct Quote from Head Ball Coach Pat Narduzzi here : “It doesn’t matter where the field is, football, basketball, she’s a leader,” Narduzzi said. “She’s the right person for the job in every respect. So it’s not just about a sport, not just about the playing experience, it’s about the whole package. That was what was so impressive to not only myself but the entire committee.”

    — Essentially I gather that bacially HE & Chancellor Patrick Gallagher both jountly made this decision 😉 lol.

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  10. Darkie, I don’t know if you have me on ignore or you just missed this post of mine in last article but I’ll try and help you and others again..here’s the comment:

    Darkie and anyone else, Reed appears to be a little busy right now so I hope you don’t mind if I can help you with the round-table show. Later on Reed will post a link to bluejeans or you can look it up anytime. I have mine on shortcut. Go into Bluejeans and look for “join as guest” hit that and type in 5713314009 and bingo that’s it. No download at all. It will then say join Reeds meeting, hit that and you’re in live. You can go on that anytime today as a trial run, it’s just there won’t be anyone else in the meeting. Give it a try when you have a minute. It’s simple… Reed will post link in a little while and the meeting opens around 7:30 or so.

    Like

    1. @Ike apolgies, I saw that I just am not familiar with that specific website and when I went to their main webpage, it was very Generic and I did not see any “Join Guest” list on their main web page.

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  11. PS DANG!!! @Reed I was worried because I thought people here were throwing you serious $$$$$$ and I was embarrassed to donate!!! — I’m in a different business lol.

    Where do I give! Holy $mokes someone asked to get back freakin’ $100 dollars?? I thought donors here were giving Grand$ lol.

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  12. Is there a a place on the site that lists the 7 dirty words?

    Seriously, the blog is great. I check it everyday. I really wish they hired Tressel. However I will hope for the best. Please just keep Narduzzi.

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  13. Mr Darkside. I just googled bluejeans, BlueJeans Business video conferencing popped up. Hit that then go to video conference. Way at the top right side went to join meeting. The page will ask, You join as participant put the ID # 5713314009 in and type in your name. Boom

    or you can go back in archives and get the link off Reeds article dated March 14. and hit that. You seem like a computer genius with all your emogies, bold print and font fluctuations… 🙂

    Like

  14. You’re welcome. Did you give it a try? Reed will post a little later and will probably be available around 7:45 this way you can talk with all the guys beforehand and maybe go over format. It’s a real hoot. Have fun

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  15. Reed – She herself has to do the hard fundraising work toward making Pitt able to give herself the pay raise she deserves. If she does that, and does it well, she could make herself a rich woman.

    Bingo! You can say Pitt hires cheap…but if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there.

    Like

  16. It’ll be interesting to see how warm Stallings’ seat starts out.

    I think he’ll get three more years minimum, even if he never wins another game, just because her predecessor gave HCKS a six year contract. It’ll cost too much to fire him before Year 4.

    With any luck, maybe by then he’ll get it figured out, have his own guys in place.

    H2P!

    P.S.> Major props to Reed for asking a foul-mouthed member to tone it down (if that’s what happened, sounds like it…). I’ve always believed that one can make points better with less f-word. Using zero f-words are even better.

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  17. It sounds like a good hire from coach N standpoint. If he likes her to do the job then I’m in. She has a lot to do to bring all the sports up to a winning standard not just ribbon for participation. She has to be stronger than the last two incompetent people who collected the money and did poor job. At least she won’t be a yes man. She is tough competitor who wants to win. I’m all in for someone like that Time to clean house of a lot of deadweight who have become too comfortable collecting salaries and not earning them. H2P

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  18. A few things.

    That donation from Peterson was for general fund wasn’t for athletics.

    The call-in show tonight will start at 8 p.m. but I’m asking people to call in around 7:50 so I can talk them a little bit before we start the actual recording.

    Anyway I will try to limit it to four people, me and 3 others but we’ll see how it goes. Dark Knight you’re certainly welcome but remember everyone has a chance to share.

    I like this hire. I didn’t say I didn’t, I said Pitt did it on the cheap which they did.

    I still believe that if we wanted to compete with the very best of the best football programs we’re going to have to open up the wallet of a lot more and that means we’re going to have to pay the athletic director and head coach more money than they’re getting now.

    To do that I think we should have had the foresight to hire and established successful AD at a program that is as big or bigger than Pitt is now, that is how you grow. What we have here, and again I do like the fact that we hired this woman, is another learning process type job for somebody that is coming up in the business.

    Now if she stays for 6 years I’ll be wrong and that means she’s successful and we have to keep her… if she’s successful which means we have to pay her the money to stay. Our track record in this is rather abysmal.

    We pay in the middling salaries of power five coaches and we pay, I think, what was the number 62? athletic director salaries, that’s hard to figure out but I guess it’s at least in the middle third of the hundred and twenty-eight teams.

    I do like that she’s here now though. Could we have done better? Maybe not with the amount we were willing to spend. But that’s Pitt’s M.O.

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  19. Reed

    When you said, “Could we have done better? Maybe not with the amount we were willing to spend. But that’s Pitt’s M.O.”, are you talking about SOP fans? LOL……they go hand in hand.

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  20. OK lets start a contest. This will only work if REED divulges the code name for the donor that wanted his money back. Any guesses as to the poster that opted out of this blog?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My money is on Emel. He was banned on the Blather this morning. Hasn’t posted much on the POV in the last week or so. He has had numerous pissing contests with Reed. I don’t believe that he was happy with the new rules of engagements Reed posted.

      Like

  21. I can’t comment on donations during the Herman vs Smiley regimes, but I think Herman was a worse AD. And while I loathed SP as much as anyone, I don’t think men’s hoops would be in the toilet if he, and not Herman, were the AD.
    And again, if we want to play on the big kids playground we need to act like we belong.
    When did we ever hire anyone who held an equivalent position to the one for which we were looking?
    Again, grabbing coal and hoping it becomes a diamond….and then waiting for it to flee someplace better

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  22. Glad you gave that donor his money back, Reed. He probably couldn’t post anyway without the crutch of a profanity laced vocabulary.. By the way, we have been discussing the various Pitt programs that have taken a dive recently; can anyone tell me what is going on with the women’s basketball program? I’m not much of a women’s basketball fan except that I like all Pitt programs to be successful. Has Suzie McConnell-Serio lost it as a coach? She has been at Pitt about 4 years now, and I don’t see much progress.

    Like

    1. The two best players from Coach Suzie’s first full recruiting class were not on the floor this season. They would have been the Junior leaders of the team. One, Stasha Carey, transferred out. She was a big loss. She’s 6-2 and would have been the team’s best player this year. The other player is Yacine Diop — she missed the entire season with a knee injury. Diop is the most athletic player on the team and impacts games on both ends of the court.

      Pitt would have been decent this year with those two and would likely have made the tourney, at least as a low seed.

      The other problem has been recruiting – Coach Suzie has missed on several guard recruits who haven’t worked out and she hasn’t been able to bring in post players for some reason. A post player recruit from Finland left the team before last season because she was homesick.

      The potential good news is that Coach Suzie has two post players coming in for next season. If they get Diop back and these freshmen posts are any good, Pitt could be decent next season and then be pretty good the following year when Diop is a red-shirt senior…

      Go Pitt.

      Like

      1. Stasha was a good player but very inconsistent – seemed to have an attention problem on the court and would lose interest and hustle at inopportune times. Watching her live she never lived up to her potential imo. Was hard to lose her but Diop’s injury was worse impact imo.

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    2. Her best player J Diop was out all year this past season with a major injury. Up until now imo Susie has shown progress. She has had some good recruits come in, and from what I understand her next class is good too. The team is very young still – only one senior this year.

      Program is still recovering from even worse recruiting and transfers under the former coach Bernato – she left the program in a real mess. 5 years is my estimate to totally rebuild – Susie is going into the 4th – imo – the injury to Diop was brutal to the rebuild this year.

      Speak as a fan who has attended 80% of the games over the past 10 years.

      Like

  23. At this point I think it’s time to accept the hire of our new AD and see how she performs at her job. Much like a new head coach, it doesn’t take long to see if the person is going to be successful in the position. Hence, like most things in life “time will tell”.

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  24. She needs to be a prolific fundraiser
    She needs to support Nard Dog but not be his lap dog
    She needs to improve our venues for track and swimming
    She needs to find a way to fund a hockey and lacrosse team
    She needs to find money to hire better coaches
    She needs to substantially improve our rank in the Directors Cup standings
    She needs to make a decision on Stallings
    She needs to read the Populous study for an OCS
    She needs to better engage fans, alumni and boosters
    She needs to find ways to fill up the Pete and Heinz
    She needs to go back to the old colors
    She needs to bring back athletic alum from every decade and get them to volunteer
    She needs to stand up to the Dookies and Tar Heels
    She needs to schedule old Big East rivals
    She needs to not be any sort of pushover for Penn State
    She needs to build a far better front porch and have the money to maintain it

    Like

  25. Here is the call-in info for tonight’s Roundtable Call-in show.

    For your phone call in the phone number is:

    408-740-7256 then enter this unique ID Code: 309829# (and don’t forget the # sign!)

    For the Meeting URL it is this site:

    https:/bluejeans.com/5713314009 (nothing else needed)

    Here is the link to my large Roundtable article where I explain all the directions…

    https:/bluejeans.com/5713314009

    Please join us – we have Dr Tom, Ike and myself but need two or three more callers.

    Like

  26. Round Table Questions

    1. Where did you grow up and what HS did you attend?
    2. How did you first become interested in Pitt Football?
    3. What is your strongest Pitt football memory – positive and negative.
    4. To me, I am Pitt’s target market…, those that did not attend the university, but reside in Pittsburgh. I think attendance would improve if they could reel in others like me. So how is this best done? Well winning is one thing and possibly the only thing. What else?
    5. Would you be happy with Jim Tressel as the new AD?
    6. If the defense gets off to a real bad start, would you fire Conklin mid-season?
    7. How much do uniforms matter to you?
    8. Do you visit the Oakland campus at all and what changes would you make there?
    9. Do you miss PITT stadium at all?
    10. How could you improve the student participation?
    11. Who are your 5 or 3 all-time PITT player favorite’s

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  27. My answers since the wife and kids have me tied up
    1. Indiana PA
    2. When Pitt won the NC (I was 6)
    3. When Cavanaugh got hurt in that ND game the next year. Second place: The 4OT game in WV but I was semi-unconscious for the second half and all overtimes
    4. Winning and a fun and entertaining game day. What happens before and after the game is just as important as the game itself. The Pitt/Penn St game last year was one of the best game days since my OCS days. Playing a rival helps!
    5. YES. He was the splash hire. The man that could make Pitt elite again.
    6. NO. But demote him. I actually think the D will get stronger as the year goes on and be a substantial improvement over last years. How could it be worse?
    7. I like the retros. All others are blah.
    8. Whenever I get ‘home’…once per year. The architecture and energy is amazing. Too bad visiting teams probably dont visit Oakland when they come in for football game day. They would love the campus. Its cleaned up since my days. Yet Forbes still smells like Bourbon St on Sunday mornings.
    9. YES. I’m the crazy guy along with CompLit that has been pushing for an OCS feasibility study for the past 3 years. Now finally Populous will be presenting their findings this summer.
    10. Make a special connection. Establish some new traditions. Have them drink KoolAid…whoops thats too Cult Like
    11. Hugh Green, Tony Dorsett, Curvin Richards, Tino Sunseri (my bad)

    Like

  28. This seems like the powers to be accomplished two goals with this hire: 1) saving money; and 2) checking the box for being progressive. Not unexpected in academia. That said, her Ohio St. tenure is something that should matter. Working there for 15 years, she saw first hand the type of financial commitment that it takes to win. Pitt is never going to turn into Ohio St. when it comes to football, but if her “problem” is that she likes to spend money on athletics, then I will give her a chance. Successful athletics is more than just spending money on coaches. She understands that, but do the people controlling her budget understand that? Unless Bill Dietrich comes back from the dead, white whale donors will probably reserve judgment until there is tangible evidence that things are not just “SOP.” Given the way that Pitt has historically spent money on athletics, I think she will find this job to be tremendously challenging.

    If she does have any level of success, I don’t see her hanging around Oakland for the hometown discount. For somebody that has spent years betting against EMU, I took notice of what happened with their football program over the past 2 years.That was one of the worst programs in America. If she can turn around EMU and Pitt, there will be some Big 10 schools ready to shower her with money.

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  29. I can only imagine that Suzie gets practically no money for recruiting and assistant coaches. The fact that uConn and a few other schools dominate the field tells me that there is much less depth of talent coming out of high school girl’s basketball. I wonder what percentage of high schools even have a girl’s team. So uConn grabs the top players and no one else can compete. The answer may be to offer fewer scholarships so that the talent will be spread more among schools that have some scholarships to give.

    Like

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