AD Heather Lyke Helping Give Pitt Athletics New Identity
Pitt AD Heather Lyke brings a "renewed sense of hope" to the school's athletics, offering a "chance to start over and move on from whatever shortcomings defined the school's athletic programs over the past several years," according to Craig Meyer of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Pitt has "fallen behind its major conference peers, perhaps even significantly so," with many of its teams "struggling." The men's basketball team has "disintegrated in the latter half of the decade" and the football program has been "average for much of the past four decades." But Pitt's "biggest source of confidence" comes from the fact that "changes have been afoot in Lyke's time." Since taking over in '17, she has hired eight head coaches, a mark that is "unusually high." But "swift, drastic changes make sense." Financially, Pitt still "lags behind many of its conference peers." In '17, the school spent $89.93M on athletics, ranking it "ninth of the ACC's 15 members." Meanwhile, Pitt's expenses increased nearly 36% over a five-year span from '12 to '17, the "third-sharpest rise of any ACC school in that time." Lyke said of turning Pitt athletics around, "There is no magic dust. It takes time doing it the right way" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/29).
NEW LOOK: THE ATHLETIC's Sean Gentille wrote it is an "ongoing process" for Lyke. In spring '17, Pitt had a "rebranding committee," $2M budget and "most crucially, step-by-step involvement with Nike" to rebrand the school's athletics program. Two years later, the "work was unveiled -- and it was far from just a color swap." Last August, Pitt announced it was "streamlining its primary logo and adopting the royal-and-gold scheme." Pitt Deputy AD/External Affairs Christian Spears said that for Pitt, this year is "about reintroducing the colors and letting the new logos 'get absorbed.'" Spears added that next year's "heavy lifting" will mean a "new, alternate football jersey" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/29).