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Pitt Basketball

Pitt AD Heather Lyke: Buyout Not a Factor in Retention, Capel to Make Decisions about Program Changes

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PITTSBURGH — Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke reaffirmed her commitment to head men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel and his commitment to re-building the Panthers program, while stressing that changes to the team after four years will be up to Capel.

“There is no question that Coach Capel and his staff want to be here in Pittsburgh,” Lyke said. “His dream was to coach at an ACC school, so he’s in a dream job for him. He wants to build this program. He knows that it hasn’t happened yet. We’re working on it. He’s working very hard to build it and build a sense of pride back in Pittsburgh. Basketball is really important in this city and we understand that. It’s really important to our athletic department and it’s a huge priority for us.”

As far as the decision bring Capel back after his fourth season was the worst of his tenure, Lyke said it’s a matter of her belief in Capel’s abilities to turn things around at Pitt, and said that his contract buyout, while declining to confirm the amount, was not a factor.

“You don’t make personnel decisions based on buyouts at the end of then day,” Lyke said. “You do it based on the ability and the leadership qualities of that person and your confidence in them and their belief in what they’re doing. That’s why we kept Jeff.”

Lyke pointed to the success of the Pitt football program, which took a huge leap in 2021 — Pat Narduzzi’s eighth season — as a reason for continued patience with what Capel is doing on the hardwood.

“We all want immediate success,” she said. “The value of continuity is important and just changing for change’s sake is not necessarily the right decision at this time. …

“When Jeff first came, there was a lot of positivity and infusion of energy and excitement and belief in what he’s building. That has not waned from me. It may have waned publicly and with fanbase, but it has not waned internally.”

But she acknowledged that the apathy of the fanbase about Capel continuing in his role is a concern.

“Absolutely concerned,” Lyke said. “Because I think that the most important thing is building a sense of pride in what we do. That pride stems from the kids in the Oakland Zoo and the people that you meet that were part of the Oakland Zoo when they were students and just the connectivity in this community, it’s really important to us. I know there’s no one more disappointed than our coaching staff about not performing where they want to be right now. I’m hopeful that people still believe and do come back and have a positive experience.”

As far as what changes the program might make going forward in order to reverse the negative trend of the 2021 season, Lyke said that will be largely be up to Capel. She said that she did not demand a specific plan of attack from him in their post-season meeting, but simply wanted to affirm their mutual dedication to continue on the current path, despite frustration about the result of the 2021-22 season. 

Lyke said that she and Capel will reconvene about his more specific plans for improving the team going forward, but emphasized that those decisions will largely be Capel’s, including potential changes to his coaching staff.

“Unless there’s serious integrity issues going on, that is not my job,” Lyke said. “That’s for Jeff to make that decision. I know that he’s focused on then team right now and recruiting and then he will talk with his staff.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago

Baloney. And stop with the Narduzzi comparisons. Duzz has consistently fielded a competitive team and had 1 losing season. This clown can’t even get an ACC team to the CBI four years in.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rob Radich
Pittband
Pittband
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Don’t need your constant negativity.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Pittband

Then scroll by. Didn’t ask for your opinion fanboy. Every word is true.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rob Radich
James DeLeon
James DeLeon
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Absolutely right. To compare Narduzzi to Capel and expect us to buy it is pure crap. Nadruzzi has had one losing season and played in five bowl games.

Larry Blake
Larry Blake
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

WVU didn’t make it to the CBI so should Huggins be fired? Also you were the conductor on the fire Narduzzi train after the W. Michigan game.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Larry Blake

Really? I absolutely wasn’t you moron. And check Huggins’ record versus Capel. You really are the worst kind of misinformed apologist. Don’t make misinformed statements about me.

Eric payne
Eric payne
2 months ago

The belief in a persons character is important when hiring a coach. A bad season does not change that belief. Now that we know that he is returning, lets try some different, lets try supporting him and the program. It makes a great difference when you show support and it helps to make his job a little easier.

Section 122
Section 122
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Put a decent to average product on the court and people will support them. I don’t even know how to describe what we’ve been watching since Dixon bounced.

Pittband
Pittband
2 months ago
Reply to  Section 122

Remember to thank Scott Barnes.

James DeLeon
James DeLeon
2 months ago
Reply to  Pittband

And don’t forget our chancellor Gallagher who has his head so far up UPMC’s butt Oakland’s going to look like a hospital zone. Gallagher was responsible for Stallings and Capel.

James DeLeon
James DeLeon
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Been there. Done that. How many times do you want to be burned?

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

How about 4 bad seasons and recruiting players who get in trouble with the law?

James DeLeon
James DeLeon
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Tell Capel to do his job and you might get support. Otherwise, he’s just taking all the money he can get and doing nothing. Like he has been doing.

James DeLeon
James DeLeon
2 months ago

She is clueless. Unfit to be the AD of a Power 5 program.

Last edited 2 months ago by James DeLeon
Russell Eugene Kissell
Russell Eugene Kissell
2 months ago

With starting a team basically from scratch, that they won a few especially in the ACC, shows a lot of coaching talent. Two more years and Putt will harvest success.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago

It’s 4 years in. The ACC was the weakest it’s been in recent memory. He lost to low majors at home, and has no recruits coming in. Other than that, you’re absolutely right

James DeLeon
James DeLeon
2 months ago

Yes and global warming is a myth and Donald Trump is a patriot. What are you smoking?

Krackerjack Kid
Krackerjack Kid
2 months ago

“You don’t make personnel decisions based on buyouts at the end of then day,”. Sure you do Heather. When the buyout is as huge as Capel’s is, you sure do. If I was Narduzzi I’d be pissed that she’s comparing me to that clown. Capel has done nothing. Name ONE thing he’s accomplished in four years, aside from flipping the court for better seating? Lyke is in a tough position but what else do you expect her to say? I think she’s done a good job with most things in her tenure, but the Capel hire is a thorn in… Read more »

MoonDog
MoonDog
2 months ago

An absolutely horrible self assessment of her basketball program. He has failed at recruiting and coaching. The program may be in worse shape now than when he started. All over college basketball good coaches turn programs around immediately.

lorin Flickinger
lorin Flickinger
2 months ago

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Isn’t that the definition of ‘insanity?’ Apparently so in the land of ‘Pitt basketball’. Next year will be no different; another 20 loss season is possible. If Pitt loses 20 games next year, Pitt can fire Heather Lyke and Jeff Capel at the same time..

Paul mcgrath
Paul mcgrath
2 months ago

You guys that keep saying that she is comparing capel to Narduzzi need to learn how to read. She is using Narduzzi as an example of needing patience. How can you read that and think she is comparing them? I don’t think capel has done a good job in his 4 years, but I’m willing to support him for another year. You guys that try and make everything so negative are the reason why Jaime Dixon left. He was sick of dealing with idiot fans that have unreal expectations and who can blame him. Pitt is not a great basketball… Read more »

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