Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke says a decision has not yet been made on the future of head basketball coach Kevin Stallings. In a wide-ranging interview on Pitt’s flagship radio network, 93.7 The Fan.
The Panthers will finish their regular season Wednesday before next week’s ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York, and Lyke said that she’ll wait until after the season to announce her decision.
“We’re in the midst of continuing to evaluate,” she said. “We know the season is winding down. … A full, comprehensive review of our program is ongoing. The season’s not over. We have another road game, our last road game at Notre Dame and obviously the ACC Tournament next week and then we’ll make some decisions after that tournament.”
But she also praised Stallings’ work effort, and said that she believes that he is meeting expectations in some ways.
“In many ways, he is: the effort that he puts in, the preparation, the responsibility that he bears,” she said. “Bringing 11 new players in and melding them together is a great challenge. … But again, there’s so many aspects in evaluating a head coach. It’s not just performance on the court.”
Lyke acknowledged that one of those issues is fan engagement and the cratered attendance at the Petersen Events Center as an issue reflective of the perception of the basketball team, which is 0-17 in ACC play.
“Attendance is disappointing, there’s no question about it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s where any of us want it to be and know it can be. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times how incredible an environment The Pete is. Our fans deserve that.”
But she said that her review will be “much more internal than external” and will be based mostly on her expectations and the expectations of the university.
FUTURE OF FOOTBALL RIVALRIES
With the finalization of both schools’ 2020 schedules this month, it was set in stone that Pitt and Penn State will have at least a one-year gap following the expiration of their current, four-game, home-and-home series that ends in 2019.
Lyke is still trying to schedule a future series with Penn State. The most realistic target for a resumption is probably 2026.
“It’s still ongoing,” she said. “We have been in communication with Penn State and they’re evaluating their scheduling philosophy and their decision on whether or not they want to renew the series. We’re hopeful that it will be. … We’d love to play, we’d love to do a home-and-home, we’d love to do another 4 game series. If it works, great. And if not, we’ll move in a different direction.”
Lyke added that West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons is an old friend of hers and she thinks there is interest in playing West Virginia.
Pittsburgh Sports Now reported that Lyke and head coach Pat Narduzzi disagreed with regards to her ideas about tarping off the upper decks of Heinz Field. It seems that Narduzzi’s influence won out in that regard.
“Right-sizing the stadium, many people are doing it,” Lyke said. “I don’t think it’s a bad decision. I don’t think it’s the best decision for us.”