Pitt alum gives $20 million to Panther football program

Heather Lyke, Chris Bickell and Chancellor Gallagher

The Panthers football program has received $20 million, the largest single donation in Pitt Athletics history, from 1997 alumnus Chris Bickell.

The gift will help fund significant capital improvements to benefit the Pitt football student-athlete experience — $10 million will be used immediately to enhance the training, nutrition and learning environment infrastructure. The remainder of the gift will be placed in an endowment to support such efforts in perpetuity.

Bickell has spent his career largely in the information technology industry. He served as founder and partner of Liberty IT Solutions until the company was acquired by Booz Allen Hamilton in 2021. Today he is CEO of WellHive, a firm that connects military veterans with healthcare services.

“I am a proud Pitt Man and it is my honor to give back to this great University,” said Bickell. “I believe the leadership is in place to take Pitt Athletics and our football program to the next level. I hope my gift inspires others to do their part in making that happen.”

In recognition of Bickell's historic gift, the head football coaching position at Pitt will be named the “Chris Bickell '97 Head Football Coach.” This is the first named coaching position in the history of Pitt Athletics.

“Chris is a generous and longtime supporter of the University of Pittsburgh's football program,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “This gift, however, is perhaps his most powerful, and it will help to shape the future and success of Pitt football for years to come.”

"We are forever grateful for Chris's generous donation that demonstrates his commitment to our football program and the extraordinary experience we want for our student-athletes, both in the present and into our future," said Heather Lyke, director of Athletics.

Bickell met with the team this week to offer words of encouragement on the season. Pitt will celebrate Bickell's gift at Saturday's season-opening contest against the University of Massachusetts at Heinz Field. The game will kick off at 4 p.m.