The University of Pittsburgh will hire Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke for the same position at Pitt, according to a report by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com.
Lyke has been athletic director at EMU since 2013 and before that, worked for Ohio State, Cincinnati and the NCAA. She is a Canton, Ohio native and a Michigan alumna. She played softball for the Wolverines. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron Law School.
The Pitt job has been vacant since former athletic director Scott Barnes officially resigned in February. Dr. Randy Juhl has been the acting athletic director.
In her time at EMU, Lyke’s focus was upgrading the marketing, licensing, facilities and strategic planning for the program, signing deals with IMG Networks and Google, among others. Before Lyke, EMU had never had an athletics strategic plan, and had some of the worst athletic programs in all of Division I.
Lyke was not one of the very few names to leak out during the search process, but hiring from a smaller school seems reasonable enough. Barnes was hired from Utah State, and though EMU isn’t known for athletics success, it seems that Lyke was building towards bigger things in Ypsilanti.
I find it interesting that Pitt hired someone that just essentially built a program from scratch. That’s not the kind of experience I would think the school would emphasize over someone with higher-level success as a fundraiser, something that was touted as a Barnes selling point.
Lyke seems well-regarding in athletic circles, having worked at the NCAA office and as a softball analyst for the Big Ten Network while she was at Ohio state. Though Lyke has a softball background, she was a big proponent of the importance of football at EMU, even as a MAC school, which could signify where her priorities will lay with the Panthers.
In summary, this is not the type of hire that jumps off the page, but she has all the tools that a good athletic director should have.