Our one and only Annie has sent a letter to Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke. Much like the POV letter I, the readers and commenters drafted and sent months ago, Annie stated her disappointment in Pitt football and offered her personal suggestions.
Unlike our letter she not only got a receipt response but a 20+ minute phone call from the Pitt Executive Associate Athletic Director, Media Relations, E. J. Borghetti (and a good guy). That position is what used to be called the SID or Sports Information Director.
Dear Ms. Lyke,
I am a Pitt alumnus (class of 1980), and am writing to express my disappointment with the state of the football program. I have been a football season ticket holder since the move was made to Heinz Field, and had tickets at Pitt Stadium before a job transfer and babies took over my life. My freshman year was the year Pitt won the National Championship, followed by successful seasons with Jackie Sherrill as the coach. This year is the first year I’ve upgraded my seats to a club level along with about 15 others I’ve been tailgating with.
My loyalty to the Pitt football family was born during that time as a student, when going to games were fun, the team was successful, and Pitt athletics were respected. Sadly, that time has long passed, and it doesn’t look like we will ever get it back. I have been supporting the team and Coach Narduzzi for 7 years now. I was hopeful that the program could become relevant nationally again. Games like the one I witnessed yesterday have convinced me that national relevance will not happen under Coaches Narduzzi, Whipple, and Borbely. It saddens me that for some reason, Pitt football cannot get over the hump- the image of a mediocre football team with no running game and a withering fan base.
Yesterday the student section was full at kickoff. It was a great idea to move the student section to the end zone. Congrats on that move. After halftime, half of the section was empty. After “Sweet Caroline”, another half of those students were gone. So by the fourth quarter, the students had given up (or weren’t engaged enough to stay for whole game), despite the game being close, the weather beautiful, and finally being able to watch the team in-person.
We know the people of Pittsburgh have other entertainment opportunities, but we also know that they will support a winner. I remember when tickets to the basketball games were the hardest ones to get in the city. All we see at Heinz is a lot of yellow seats. Why the upper levels of the stadium aren’t tarped off is beyond my understanding. It contributes to the image that Pitt football is not worth spending money to watch. Since football is the engine that brings in the most money for the athletic programs, this is embarrassing and unacceptable.
What are you doing to remedy this?
I will say that I am unlikely to renew my tickets for next year if the current coaching staff is retained. Some individual coaches seem to be great (Marion, for one), but others seem to be stuck in the past. We need new blood, with new ideas and energy to recruit exciting players. I do not believe that will happen with the current staff.
Please make the moves necessary to help save our football program. If you do not do that, then you are as much of a problem as the coaches are. I have season tickets to volleyball, and will spend more of my time and money supporting them and the soccer teams.
Thank you for your consideration.
Here is a quick bit about the phone call – I don’t think Annie would mind my sharing a bit of it (edited…)
Regarding the letter we POV’ers sent in: EJ stated passed it over to the gameday/marketing group as it was outside his area of control. He thought someone from that group had already reached out to me and will follow up on that. Again – while that is nice for EJ to do that letter should have been on AD Lyke’s desk the minute they received it.
Thanks Annie for sharing all this and, of course, for being a great Pitt fan to take the time and effort to get your thoughts to the right place..
Hail to Pitt