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Steve Pederson out as Pitt athletic director

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


"Before beginning a robust national coaching search, Steve Pederson and I spoke this morning and we mutually agreed that this would be the appropriate time to make a change in athletic department leadership.

"Since arriving at the University in August, I have greatly appreciated my collaborations with Steve. Our athletic department has advanced in many significant ways under his leadership. Steve was an instrumental figure in Pitt’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference and thanks to his efforts our athletic facilities, especially the Petersen Events Center, rival any in the country. I want to thank him for his many important contributions to Pitt and his unwavering commitment to our student-athletes."

"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. I will miss the daily interaction with our great staff, coaches and student-athletes, but will enjoy watching them accomplish great things. To our friends and supporters, thank you for making this a great home for our family."

Wait, what?

No, seriously. The news about Paul Chryst, we knew. But Steve?

Technically, Pederson hasn't been fired. But it's very difficult to understand an athletic director willing stepping down immediately before a coaching search. It was speculated that Pederson may have a lesser role in the next search but for him to have been excluded entirely would have raised some eyebrows. And now, to be gone completely is even more shocking.

Pederson has been an utterly controversial figure at Pitt. From knocking down Pitt Stadium to dismissing Dave Wannstedt to changing Pitt to 'Pittsburgh' his moves have caused a lot of questions. For me, those moves often led fans to blame Pederson for things that simply weren't his fault, but if you point to his recent coaching hires of Mike Haywood, Todd Graham, and even Paul Chryst to a degree, those moves never panned out. And at the top of the list for most athletic directors at major-conference schools is to lead the football program to success.

Randy Juhl, Vice Chancellor for Research Conduct and Compliance, will be the interim director.

More on this later, but ... wow.

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