So, um ... this happened:
PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh announced today a leadership change with the Pitt wrestling program effective immediately.
Assistant staff members Matt Kocher and Drew Headlee will serve as acting co-head coaches for the balance of the 2017 season. Jason Peters, the Panthers’ head coach since 2013, is no longer with the University.
"We will continue to provide our student-athletes and coaches with our full support as they work to achieve the many goals they set for the 2017 season," said Dr. Randy Juhl, who will assume the responsibilities of acting athletic director at the end of this week.
A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
The reason for Peters' sudden dismissal seems to be a bit unknown right now. But here's what we know, courtesy of the Pitt News. Some wrestlers reportedly got in some trouble while the team was at the Midlands Championships event a few weeks back. One of those wrestlers, according to the Pitt News, may have been senior Mikey Racciato. And as the article cites, Racciato didn't wrestle this past weekend at the Pitt Duals event (something I wrote in the recap). The Panthers won all three of their duals but Racciato didn't participate.
Peters' involvement right now isn't known. But the fact that Pitt dismissed him so quickly and in the middle of the year doesn't look that great for him.
In the middle of the year. Yep, timing couldn't be much worse. The Panthers are just about to jump into ACC duals and have this mess now hanging over the program. Wonderful.
Compounding the issue, of course, is that Pitt is without an athletics director. Scott Barnes is headed to Oregon State and while Dr. Randy Juhl is the acting athletics director, the school is searching for a permanent hire. The release states that the school's search will begin immediately despite that.
Whoever makes the hire, whether it's Juhl or the new AD, is really inconsequential to me. What I hope most of all is that Pitt goes out and makes a splash hire as they did in men's soccer and (pardon the pun) swimming and diving. The Panthers' wrestling program is in a great recruiting territory and whoever comes here will be in a position where he can have success. The team is currently ranked No. 23 and almost always in the Top 25 mix. Hiring the right coach can help the program take the next step and get them into the discussion as a top ten program.
The good news is that Pitt is in better financial position than they were when they hired Peters. That's not to say he was a terrible hire, only that they have more money this time around. Peters was hired in April 2013 as Pitt's Big East tenure was coming to an end. Now in the ACC, the Panthers should be able to make a quality hire.