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Pitt Women's Basketball

Pitt Unveils Tory Verdi as New Women’s Basketball Head Coach



PITTSBURGH — Pitt announced their new head coach for the women’s basketball program in Tory Verdi on Friday afternoon at a press conference at the Petersen Events Center.

Verdi is the 10th head coach to take over the Panthers in their program history for the 50th season starting in 2023-24. He takes over from Lance White, who served as the Panthers’ head coach for five seasons, before athletic director Heather Lyke fired him for accruing a record of 42-99, the worst five year stretch of any head coach in Panthers history.

Verdi brings over 11 seasons of head coaching experience at the Division-I level and has been coaching basketball in various roles since 1995 when he was a senior in college. He is a New England native and has spent most of his time coaching in that area as well.

Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke thanked everyone that worked together to bring Verdi to Pitt and congratulated her team on a job well done. She specifically thanked Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and their Board of Trustees to “build a culture of comprehensive excellence.”

“Today is really the result of countless people working together, to bring an extraordinary person and leader to our women’s basketball program,” Lyke said. “We had great expectations of what we needed in our next leader and we did not settle for anything less and we found that leader in Tory Verdi.”

Verdi spent the past seven seasons coaching UMass in the Atlantic 10. Verdi turned the program around, leading UMass from an 8-22 record his first season to three seasons with 20 or more wins and postseason appearances in his final three seasons.

Verdi made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2022, as the Minutewomen won the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the first time in program history. This gave the Minutewomen their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998 and only their third ever as they made it for the first time in 1996. The Minutewomen won the Regular Season Title for the first time in 2023 but settled for the WNIT after losing in the A-10 Tournament.

Lyke and Verdi worked with each other back last decade at Eastern Michigan. Lyke served as Athletic Director at EMU and Verdi worked as women’s basketball head coach at the time.

Verdi improved the Eagles immensely during his time there, like he did with the Minutewomen. He turned around the Eagles from 8-22 in his first season to three straight postseason appearances the next three years. The Eagles made the WBI Second Round in the 2013-14 season and then made the WNIT the following two seasons.

“I watched coach Verdi’s work ethic,” Lyke said about their team at Eastern Michigan. “I saw how he built relationships with his players. The interactions with our donors and our community. I saw his concept of family come to life…I saw Coach Verdi build a program that no one expected to be successful, and he did it the right way with the right people.” 

Verdi brought his family along with him to the press conference, including his mother, his wife, and his three children. He thanked everyone for coming and for his family who helps him every day to become the best man and coach he is today.

He then expanded into his declarations to turn Pitt from losers into winners starting at that specific moment.

“Today is such an exciting day, Verdi said. “Today is the day we start winning. We will win and we will win big. I say that with such confidence because I’ve been doing it for the past 25 years. I know that we can win here. I felt it from the moment I stepped foot on campus. Today, we will act like winners. Today we will carry ourselves like winners. Today, we will look like winners.”

Verdi declared that he is ready for this moment and is ready to lead the Panthers to victory. He also asked for help from the community, the university, the student body and the entire state of Pennsylvania to get behind this team as they transition into a winning program.

“This program is a sleeping giant and needs to be awakened,” Verdi said. “The lack of success within this program have scared away many coaches off, but not me. I look at this program as an opportunity. An opportunity to do something that’s never been done before…This is the city of Champions. It’s time we do our part, it’s time to play for and win Championships.” 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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