Oh man, I'm so not ready for the Lyke puns that are going to hit the street in the next few days.
As expected, on Monday, Heather Lyke was introduced as the school's next athletics director. Lyke replaces Scott Barnes who left for the same job at Oregon State. Here was our writeup yesterday when the announcement seemed imminent.
The press release/quotes stuff was your typical cookie-cutter deal. One thing I found interesting was that Pitt got quotes from all of their program's quotes on Lyke's hire. I don't recall if that was done with Barnes or not. Not much there in terms of actual substance, but at least a bit unique.
And here was Lyke's official statement used in the Pitt press release:
"It is an incredible honor to accept the director of athletics position at the University of Pittsburgh," Lyke said. "I am grateful to Chancellor Gallagher and the search committee for the opportunity to lead this athletic department filled with dedicated studentathletes, coaches and staff. Pitt has such a storied tradition and great expectations. I am thrilled to be part of Chancellor Gallagher's team. There is a tremendous pride in the Blue and Gold, and we will work extremely hard to make our alumni, donors, community and University even more proud. With all of us working together, I am confident we can build winning teams and a winning culture for Pitt Athletics."
Finally, Chris Peak has more from Rivals on what brought her to Pitt. Again, nothing much of substance in the quotes, but, well, there they are.
One small thing I did get was the end of this quote, which I thought at least showed she had done some homework on Pitt's branding in advance of the presser:
"And here's what I mean by comprehensive excellence: everybody who touches this program impacts the lives of our student-athletes. Just think about it: every single person on our facility staff, the sports medicine team that treats our student-athletes, the fans who come and cheer loudly, who buy Pitt script gear..."
Lyke no doubt has been briefed well on the script and its importance to the fans.
Like most ADs find when they are hired, Lyke has some immediate work to do. In terms of coaches, at the top of her list will be finding a replacement for the wrestling program after Jason Peters was dismissed in the middle of the season.
Finally, keep this as food for thought. But while Pitt doesn't have a scholarship lacrosse program right now, despite being in the ACC where that sport is played, you wonder if/when that's coming. As mentioned last year, Pitt is building a domed facility for lacrosse (recreational) and the soccer teams. One thing I hadn't heard talked about much was the fact that Lyke was the first female Chair of the Men's NCAA Lacrosse committee. I would be interested to know more about her ties to that sport and if that was something that stood out to Pitt. Barnes previously said the school wasn't interested in adding more scholarship sports right now but, eventually, adding lacrosse just makes sense.
As I said in the poll from yesterday's writeup, it's impossible to say for sure if this was a great hire yet or not. I'm pretty optimistic about it, though. I can understand some people perhaps wanting a bigger name but in terms of her credentials and experience, I'm not sure there's a lot to gripe about. Lyke, as Barnes found out, will ultimately be judged on the success of the football and basketball programs and any hires she makes there. But in terms of reality and understanding everything that goes into the job, I'm hoping that Pitt sees improvements elsewhere, in terms of raising more money, continuing to improve the Olympics sports, making needed facility upgrades, and even adding a few more scholarship programs where it makes sense.