Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke has fired head basketball coach Kevin Stallings, sources tell Pittsburgh Sports Now.
Stallings, 57, just completed an 8-24 season that finished with 19 consecutive losses in Atlantic Coast Conference play. He finishes his two-year tenure at Pitt with a record of 24-41 and is 479-324 overall, with previous stops at Vanderbilt and Illinois State.
“I want to express my appreciation to Coach Stallings for his commitment to our program,” Lyke said in a press release. “In moving forward, we have tremendous expectations for our men’s basketball program at Pitt and I believe we can achieve great things within the Atlantic Coast Conference and nationally. A national search for the next Pitt head coach will begin immediately.”
Lyke, Stallings and representatives for both sides met early on Thursday morning, which marked the first significant conversation on Stallings’ future between the parties in several weeks.
He had four years remaining on his contract and there has been no word on his substantial buyout. Stallings would be owed in the neighborhood of $9.5 million over the next four years if the letter of his contract is followed. Sources close to Stallings in the days leading up to Pitt’s season-ending loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday suggested that he would not be willing to negotiate a lesser settlement.
Stallings was hired by Lyke’s predecessor, Scott Barnes, who negotiated Stallings’ contract before leaving to take a job at Oregon State. Stallings’ hire was mired by controversy from the very beginning, when unanswered questions arose as to the role the search firm Pitt hired to identify candidates had in placing Stallings at Pitt when it was widely reported that he was about to be fired at Vanderbilt.
Barnes’ subsequent departure created more questions than it did answers in that regard.
Lyke inherited a basketball program that had underperformed in 2016-17 both on the court and recruiting-wise. She never seemed to give Stallings much of any public support, particularly once Pitt’s fortunes turned around the beginning of 2018.
Sources tell Pittsburgh Sports Now that Lyke and Stallings never developed much of a working relationship during her time running the program.
Lyke will now coordinate her fourth coaching search in less than a year on the job. She also hired a coaches for Pitt’s wrestling, girl’s soccer and gymnastics teams. Stallings is the second coach to be fired by Lyke, who has also shaken up things in the athletic department. Of her five deputy and executive associate athletic directors, three are new hires during her tenure.