Former Pitt basketball star Gilbert Brown tweeted on Monday that Pitt has moved on from two longtime members of the athletic department staff and that the program “keeps on making mistakes and alienating alumni.”
Brown tweeted that Pitt has moved on from men’s basketball athletic trainer Tony Salesi and strength and conditioning coach Tim Beltz. A source confirmed to Pittsburgh Sports Now that there will be changes to both departments this summer. A university spokesperson did not have an immediate comment on the situation.
Salesi had been with Pitt since 1986 and his official title was executive associate athletic director for coaches and performance. He oversaw athletic healthcare and administration in addition to his duties with the men’s basketball team. A 1980 graduate of Pitt, Salesi is also an adjunct member of the faculty at the university.
Beltz was hired by Pitt in 1999 and worked with many of the school’s teams as a strength and conditioning coach. When Pitt hired current men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach Garry Christopher in 2016, Beltz was reassigned to the women’s basketball team.
Brown lamented the loss of Beltz and Salesi as long-time members of the athletic department that have ties that go back years. Brown played at Pitt from 2006 to 2011.
“As far as the men’s basketball team,” Brown tweeted. “Those two guys. were our closet connection to the program and one the main reasons we wanted to come back and visit.”
PITT just keeps on making mistakes and alienating alumni smh….just heard administration is letting go of our head Arhletic trainer and Let go ofour head Strength coach(who was demoted when stallings was there)as well
— Gilbert Brown (@gbrown5) May 14, 2018
Strength and conditioning coaches are generally considered to be part of the coaching staff, and a new head coach often brings a new strength coach on board. Former men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings brought Christopher with him from Vanderbilt. It’s unknown if new women’s basketball coach Lance White intends to hire a new strength coach for his staff.
Athletic trainers are typically not considered part of the coaching staff, and Salesi’s status as an associate athletic director would mean that any decision on his continued employment or role would have to come from athletic director Heather Lyke.
Relations with many Pitt basketball alumni have been strained since Jamie Dixon left the program in 2016. Many former players wanted then-Pitt assistant and fellow former Pitt player Brandin Knight to get the job instead of Stallings. Stallings did not keep Knight on the staff, and he’s spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Rutgers.
New men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel has made overt attempts to re-engage relationships with basketball alumni. He attempted to re-hire Knight on the staff, and has become a booster for Zoo Crew, a team primarily made up of Pitt alumni that will make its third appearance in The Basketball Tournament this summer.
Brown is one of the members of Zoo Crew, along with fellow former Panthers Jermaine Dixon, Levance Fields, Antonio Graves and Gary McGhee. Brown tweeted his support of the hiring of Capel back in March.
Jeff Capel 🤔🤔…..not bad
— Gilbert Brown (@gbrown5) March 27, 2018
With the men’s basketball coaching staff changeover, Capel retained Brian Regan as director of basketball operations, Jason Richards as director of student-athlete development and Chris Jones as a graduate manager. Regan has been with Pitt since 2007, Richards since 2011. Jones played from 2013 to 2016 and has been a graduate manager since then.
The athletic department in general has seen a lot of turnover since Lyke arrived in 2017. Capel and White were the fourth and fifth head coaches she’s hired in a little over a year. Lyke has also replaced much of her athletics staff.
UPDATE, 4:47 p.m: PSN has learned that Salesi’s position is being turned over as part of a re-structuring of the sports medicine department. He is currently still employed by the university.