Heather Lyke to be named new Pitt athletic director
March 19, 2017 10:03 PM
Pitt chancellor Patrick Gallagher looks on as Heather Lyke answers a question during her introductory press conference Monday. Lyke was named Pitt's new athletic director.
By Brian Batko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When Scott Barnes made it known he would be leaving his post as Pitt’s athletic director, chancellor Patrick Gallagher insisted his university would be a “a very competitive destination for some great AD candidates.”
A few months later, Pitt has made its choice.
Heather Lyke, who currently holds the same position at Eastern Michigan University, will be Pitt’s new athletic director, according to a source. She will be Pitt’s third full-time athletic director since December 2014, when Steve Pederson was fired. She is expected to be announced at a news conference Monday. The Post-Gazette first wrote of her candidacy Friday.
Lyke, a 1992 graduate of the University of Michigan, where she was a standout softball player, has been the athletic director at Eastern Michigan since July 2013, when she left her job as senior associate athletic director at Ohio State University. She spent 15 years in the Ohio State athletic department after serving as assistant athletic director for compliance at the University of Cincinnati from 1996-98.
Also a 1995 graduate of the University of Akron Law School, Lyke is a native of Canton, Ohio. In October 2015, Eastern Michigan reportedly gave her a contract extension through July 2020. Reports indicate she earned a base salary of $245,000.
Pitt’s 12-person committee formed for the athletic director search included football coach Pat Narduzzi and Randy Juhl, who has served as acting athletic director since Jan. 10. The university also was assisted in the process by the search firm DHR International, which also had a hand in the hiring of Barnes.
At Eastern Michigan, one of Lyke’s foremost challenges was to energize a struggling football program that won no more than two games in a season from 2012-15. This past season, the Eagles finished 7-6 and went to a bowl game for the first time since 1987.
In one of Barnes’ final interviews before leaving Pitt, he expressed his belief that Pitt “is really a phenomenal job” and that he was leaving mostly for family reasons. Lyke will preside over a football team with a third-year coach in Narduzzi, and a men’s basketball team that struggled in its first year coached by Kevin Stallings, among the Panthers’ other programs.
She is also the first female athletic director in Pitt history. According to statistics released by the NCAA in 2015, there were only 37 female athletic directors out of 313 in Division I.
“She was very aggressive when she got there,” Western Michigan University athletic director Kathy Beauregard said of Lyke’s time at Eastern Michigan in an ESPN article published in November. “It was clear she had done a lot of evaluating ahead of time and didn’t hesitate to move forward. She has an outstanding career ahead of her.”
Brian Batko: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrianBatko.
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