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Michigan State reportedly chooses new athletic director, keeping Heather Lyke at Pitt

The Pitt athletic director revealed last week that she had been in contact with the Big Ten school about the position

Michigan State appears to have concluded its search for a new athletic director on Monday, as Chris Solari and David Jesse of the Lansing State Journal reported that Alan Haller, who has served as Michigan State’s deputy athletic director, was chosen as the new head of the school’s athletic department. The move eases concerns in Pittsburgh that Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke could leave her post for a more familiar state and conference.

The Lansing State Journal report noted that Haller was one of three finalists for the job, and Lyke was not. The other two finalists were Auburn athletic director Allen Greene and UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond, who did not interview for the position. With that said, it is unclear if talks between Lyke and Michigan State ever got beyond the preliminary stages.

Lyke revealed last Friday that she had spoken with Michigan State about its athletic director position, which had been vacant since Aug. 5, when Bill Beekman stepped down after three years on the job. However, Lyke said at the time that she was “very happy at Pitt” and “thrilled to work for Chancellor [Patrick] Gallagher,” per Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Lyke was hired as Pitt’s athletic director in 2017 and has made a number of key decisions during her tenure. In 2018, she fired Kevin Stallings and brought on Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel as his replacement. She also negotiated contract extensions with volleyball coach Dan Fisher, football coach Pat Narduzzi and men’s soccer coach Jay Vidovich.

The Pitt athletic director was viewed as a potential fit for Michigan State for a variety of reasons. Most notably, she attended Michigan from 1988 to 1992 and rose to prominence as Eastern Michigan's athletic director from 2013 to 2017. She would have also brought extensive familiarity with the Big Ten to the table, as she served as the assistant athletic director at Ohio State from 1998 to 2013.