Pitt wrestling only has one four-time All American in its history, and he was just honored with an induction into the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame.
Pat Santoro graduated from Pitt in 1989 after capping off his career with back to back NCAA titles, both at 142 pounds. He is the all time winningest wrestler in Pitt history with a mark of 167-13, and arguably has the most successful post-college freestyle career as well. He is currently the head coach at Lehigh University where he regularly leads the Mountain Hawks to conference titles and multiple individual All American performances.
He is one of the Panthers’ most accomplished individual athletes ever, regardless of sport. He compiled 20 total NCAA Tournament victories, still a Pitt record more than three decades later. As a junior, he went an astonishing 48-0 en route to his first NCAA championship. Santoro also won three Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) championships while at Pitt. Internationally, he was a four-time member of the U.S. National Team. Santoro was an alternate for the 1996 Olympic Team and 1999 World Team. He placed fourth at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, third at the 1992 Olympic Trials, and was runner-up at the 1992 U.S. Open Freestyle Championships.
Nominations for the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame were solicited from the general public. Candidates had to be five years removed from their final year of collegiate competition and not currently playing professional sports.
A 17-member selection committee then evaluated the candidate pool and provided a recommendation on the class to the director of athletics.
The 2020 class will receive induction at the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner on Friday, Oct. 16, at Heinz Field. On Saturday, Oct. 17, the inductees will be introduced at Heinz Field when the Panthers take on Notre Dame.
Current Pitt head coach Keith Gavin weighed in on Santoro’s time at Pitt: “I’m happy to see Pat get inducted into our HOF. Knowing of Pat’s accomplishments as a wrestler here gave me the confidence that I could win at Pitt when I was a student-athlete. I spent a few years training at Lehigh’s RTC right out of college and learned a lot from Pat during that time. He is a great coach and someone that I have a ton of respect for.”
Santoro is a highly regarded coach in D1. If you spend any amount of time in wrestling circles you will hear nothing but good things about the man. Just ask any of his athletes. They will likely describe him as a “father figure” or a “role model”. One told me once “he’s the exact type of coach you would want your son wrestling for.”
For a more detailed profile on the honoree, read his biography of Lehigh’s website.