Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tricky Timeline for Ad, Coach Searches with No Athletic Leadership in Place, Candidates Might Be Hesitant

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tricky Timeline for Ad, Coach Searches with No Athletic Leadership in Place, Candidates Might Be Hesitant

Article excerpt

Pitt publicly acknowledged Wednesday night that it was about to undertake yet another football coaching search, but that was known well before Paul Chryst was formally introduced at Wisconsin.

The surprise came in an emailed news release that said athletic director Steve Pederson had been fired and, in addition to a football coach, the Panthers would begin searching for an athletic director, as well.

Pederson's dismissal adds a new layer of uncertainty to the coming weeks -- and possibly months -- for a Pitt athletic department apparently looking to reinvent itself.

With both positions open at the same time, the logical question is, which one will be filled first?

Usually, university leaders hire an athletic director, who in turn hires the coaches.

That doesn't appear to be the case for Pitt.

The timeline doesn't appear to be feasible for the Panthers to have an athletic director in place with enough time to hire a coach. The Panthers would like to have a coach in place by their bowl game Jan. 2, which gives them a two-week window.

When former athletic director Jeff Long was hired after Pederson's departure for Nebraska in 2002, the process took more than five months.

In that time, interim athletic director Marc Boehm hired basketball coach Jamie Dixon, which would seem to dispel the notion that an athletic director is needed to conduct a successful coaching search.

This time around, the interim athletic director is Dr. Randy P. Juhl, vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance.

Juhl has some, albeit limited, athletics in his background, serving on the university's NCAA accreditation steering committee in 2005-06. He also chaired the search committee that hired university provost Patricia E. Beeson in 2010.

But there are challenges to hiring a football coach who doesn't know who his boss will be. In an interview Thursday with ESPN 970, former coach Dave Wannstedt said a big factor in his decision to come to Pitt in 2005 was personal persistence by then-athletic director Long. …

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