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February 19, 2015

What Pitt wants in new AD

What will it take to be Pitt’s next athletic director?

“Integrity, vision, collaborative skills and a commitment to higher education and student-athlete welfare” are among the characteristics specified in the job description for a new AD.

In addition to a preference for individuals with an advanced degree, the University seeks candidates with:

• A record of successful executive level, strategic leadership within higher education, intercollegiate athletics and/or a like industry.

• Ability to collaborate and form strategic partnerships with a diverse array of constituencies external and internal to the University community in order to leverage opportunities for growth and advancement.

• A record of collaborative and ethical decision-making within a fast-paced and competitive environment.

• Ability to effectively present Pitt’s messages to the media and at alumni, donor and other University events.

• A strong commitment to gender equity and Title IX compliance, and the principles and bylaws of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

• Demonstrated ability to secure funds for capital projects, program and facility improvements and overall departmental enhancements.

Vice Chancellor for Research Conduct and Compliance Randy Juhl, who was named acting AD and search committee chair following the dismissal of AD Steve Pederson in mid-December, said he has received “at least a couple dozen candidates with good credentials” and expects that number to rise considerably.

“The more the better,” he said, adding, “The better the candidates, the harder the choices. We would like to have a difficult decision to make.”

The 14-member search committee convened Feb. 10 to receive its charge from Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and meet principals from Chicago-based DHR International, which has been selected to assist in the search. Working with the committee are Glenn Sugiyama, DHR’s global head of sports, and former University of Wisconsin AD Pat Richter, DHR executive vice president, education and sports practice.

Juhl said DHR representatives will be on campus later this month to lead focus group meetings involving constituents from the academic, business and on-field areas of athletics operations, including coaches, student-athletes and athletics staff, and with trustees, donors, supporters and partners.

He said DHR will present a list of top candidates to the committee about three or four weeks after that.

Following interviews, the committee will send its short list of recommended candidates to Gallagher, who will make the selection.

Juhl said he expects the committee to complete its work this spring.


Gallagher announced the full AD search committee roster Feb. 10. Administrators on the committee are: Al Novak, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, and David DeJong, vice provost, academic planning and resources management. DeJong, a faculty member in economics, is a liaison to the University Senate athletics committee and chair of the University’s student-athletes admissions advisory committee.

Faculty on the committee are: Jay Irrgang of orthopaedic surgery, who is co-chair of the Senate athletics committee, and Susan Albrecht of nursing, who is the faculty athletics representative, a member of the student-athletes admissions advisory committee and liaison to the Senate athletics committee.

From Athletics are: Wendy Meyers, executive associate AD and Athletics chief financial officer; Justin Acierno, assistant AD, ticket sales and operations, and a former Pitt football player; Jen Tuscano, assistant director of academic support services and academic counselor; Alonzo Webb, track and field/cross country head coach, and Suzie McConnell-Serio, women’s basketball head coach.

Student-athletes on the committee are: Artie Rowell, president of the Pitt student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC) and a football player, and Lindsay Offutt, a SAAC officer and gymnastics team member.

Pitt trustees on the committee are: Bryant Salter and James Covert, both of whom are former Pitt football players.

In a prepared release, Gallagher stated: “Athletics is important, but we want to see athletics thrive in the context of being part of the University, and I am certain that all of the members of the search committee understand and support that goal.

“The job of athletic director has been growing increasingly complex and I am confident that the search committee will be able to identify top candidates who can come in and be a great athletic director immediately, not somebody who’s going to be growing in that role over a period of years.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow