Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke and head basketball coach Kevin Stallings are reportedly scheduled to meet on Thursday morning to discuss the coach’s employment status and a potential contract buyout, according to Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Stallings’ buyout was previously reported to be around $10 million, but Meyer noted that it’s now “believed to be upwards of $9 million.” He also cited a source close to the program who said the second-year coach is looking to get the full amount promised to him in his contract in the event that he is fired without cause.
Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan provided additional details on the buyout, reporting that the exact cost is $9.4 million and that there was talk of a reduced offer, though that was disputed.
Circled back to all sources and this is the story on Kevin Stallings.— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) March 8, 2018
- Buyout is $9.4M
- Multiple high-end Pitt boosters insist he was offered $7.5M and said no.
- Sources close to Stallings insist no such reduced offer was made.
The meeting is scheduled to take place just two days after the Panthers’ season ended with their 19th consecutive loss to a conference opponent, as Pitt fell to Notre Dame 67-64 in the ACC tournament on Tuesday. Overall, Stallings finished the season with an 8-24 record, which included the longest losing streak in program history and the most losses in a single season.
Just as worrisome as Pitt’s slumping performance is the record-low attendance the team has drawn in the Stallings era. Average attendance hit a new low at the Petersen Events Center in the coach’s first season in Pittsburgh, and the situation only deteriorated this year amid low expectations for a team composed primarily of freshmen and junior college transfers.
That lack of fan enthusiasm stretches back to Stallings’ hire, which was carried out by former Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes in March 2016. The move was met with instant backlash from the fanbase, as the coach had posted uninspiring results in his final four seasons at Vanderbilt.
Nine months after the hire, Barnes left Pitt to accept an athletic director position at Oregon State, and Lyke inherited the Stallings situation a short time later.
Although it’s uncommon to part ways with a coach so quickly, Lyke’s hand may be forced not only by the terrible results, but by the financial burden placed on Pitt by the low attendance.
During his tenure at Pitt, Stallings has coached the Panthers to a 24-41 record, going 4-32 in conference. Prior to his arrival, Pitt had not posted a losing season since 2000.