Thursday December 18th, 2014

Pitt announced Wednesday night that the school and and athletic director Steve Pederson have agreed to part ways, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The news came while former Pitt football coach Paul Chryst was being introduced as the new coach at Wisconsin in a press conference.

Pitt chancellor Patrick Gallagher said he met with Pederson on Wednesday morning, at which point it was determined the university and he would move on. Randy P. Juhl, Pitt's vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance, will serve as acting athletic director, and the school said a search for a football coach and athletic director will begin immediately.

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From the school's announcement:

“Since arriving at the University in August, I have greatly appreciated my collaborations with Steve," Gallagher said. "Our athletic department has advanced in many significant ways under his leadership.”

“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. “I am a Pitt and City of Pittsburgh fan, and want what is best for everyone moving into the future."

Pederson has served two stints as Pitt's athletic director, first from 1997-2002 and again from 2007 until now. He was athletic director at Nebraska in the intervening years.

During his tenure, Pederson helped orchestrate Pitt's move from the Big East to the ACC, hired men's basketball coach Ben Howland and oversaw the demolition of Pitt Stadium and the subsequent construction of new practice facilities for the football team and the Petersen Events Center, the home arena for the men's and women's basketball teams.

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But the demolition of Pitt Stadium drew controversy, since it meant Pitt's football team moved permanently off campus to Heinz Field, the home stadium of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And the football program has been unable to find coaching stability under Pederson's watch. Walt Harris, hired during Pederson's first stint, eventually left for Stanford, Dave Wannstedt resigned in 2010, Mike Haywood was fired after less than a month over domestic violence charges, Todd Graham left after one season for Arizona State and Chryst left after just three seasons to return to his alma mater.

Pederson had signed a five-year contract extension in June 2013. He joins Michigan's Dave Brandon as athletic directors of Power Five schools to be relieved of their duties in recent months.

Ben Estes



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