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One-on-One with Jeff Capel Pt. 2: Relationship w/Keith Dambrot, The City Game, Pitt and NIL



On Thursday, PSN’s Mike Vukovcan spent 20+ minutes on the phone with Pitt basketball coach Jeff Capel.

In part one of my interview, Capel went into detail about the culture change at Pitt, future scheduling and he was very vocal concerning the lack of national respect for ACC and how it needs to change.

One-on-One with Jeff Capel Pt. 1: Culture Change at Pitt, Lack of ACC Respect

Later on in our conversation, I switched the subject to Duquesne, and if could we see the return of The City Game in the near future?

Despite having campuses in the same city, the Pitt and Duquesne men’s basketball programs haven’t competed on the court against each other since November 30, 2018.

Because of that, many have speculated as to why the two teams in Pittsburgh won’t play each other anymore?

Many reasons have been thrown around including that Capel and former Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot had a falling out and were on bad terms with each other.

“First and foremost, I was really excited for their season,” said Capel. “I watched a little bit of their Atlantic 10 Championship Game and looked at the score and saw that they were up, and it looked like they were going to win so I turned and watched it. I wanted to see Coach Dambrot and wanted to see him celebrate. I wanted to see him have that moment.”

“I don’t know what people think or the rumors, but Keith and I have been in contact all year. Congratulating each other, talking to each other and things like that. If we schedule Duquesne or we don’t, it has nothing to do with Coach Dambrot not being there or being there. Just like when we decided not to play them, it had nothing to do with my relationship or our relationship with myself and Coach Dambrot.”

Now that that’s clear, back to the topic that both fan bases want to hear about, will Duquesne and Pitt renew the longtime rivalry?

“I made the decision (not to play Duquesne) based on what I felt was the best thing for our program at that time, at that particular time,” said Capel. “That was my second year, the third year we couldn’t have fans there, so it didn’t really make sense. We just haven’t picked it up since. Going forward, is that something that we’ll look at or think about? Like I mentioned earlier, we’ll do whatever we feel is the best thing for our program and will put us in the best position to have a chance at getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. That’s what I’ll say to that. I have a lot of respect for Duquesne and especially for what they did last year. It was exciting to watch them win a game in the tournament and for Coach Dambrot to be able to go out like that. I’m incredibly happy for Dru [Joyce] and think he will do an unbelievable job there. They have a lot of momentum and wish them the best of luck.”

The last topic we discussed is arguably the biggest topic in college sports these days and that’s the NIL. In order for any program to have a chance at success these days, having a NIL team that is going to support you is a must. Capel is pleased with the support his program is receiving and believes Pitt will be able to compete in today’s climate.

“I’m incredibly grateful for Alliance 412, for our collective and our people that run it and started it,” said Capel. “I’m incredibly grateful for them and our relationship and partnership. I love the way they do things, trying to educate the guys, getting the guys out in the community doing things and things like that. I’m all for Name, Image and Likeness. I’m all for the players being compensated.”

“I do think there needs to be some guardrails. Right now, it’s the Wild West, it’s chaotic. I have a lot of friends that are in the front office, scouts, GMs in the NBA. I’m talking to them, and they say they don’t understand how we’re doing it. Just because there, they have rules, you have time periods, you have a market, you have all of those things. We have nothing. It’s beyond the Wild West, I don’t know what’s beyond that but it’s beyond that. The fact that the portal opens right after Selection Sunday is ridiculous. The thing that I’d like to see in our sport is more basketball people that are more involved in coming up with these rules. I think you have administrators and deans and people that like and it’s nothing against them, but they don’t live in our world, they don’t understand what we go thru. I am appreciative of our collective, obviously things change from year to year as far as the market, as far as what these young people are looking for and I’m grateful that our people are understanding and willing to adapt and to adjust and to be with the times. I’m pleased with where we are. We might not have as much as some of the SEC schools or schools that don’t have football, but our people have been unbelievable and we’re incredibly grateful.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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mike miles
mike miles
1 month ago

When I look back on this season I have to wonder if the reason Federiko played so poorly was that he wasn’t happy with his pay plan. I think if he had developed even a little this team might have had a great year.

1 month ago

The NCAA is a joke!!! No rules or restrictions.., Players can bounce year to year & the coaches are chasing the green backs by jumping schools with basically no penalties. Pitt got hosed out of the Tournament due to idiots on TV like Joe Lunardi who is an ACC hater & then you have administrators on the selection committee like Barnes who is pretty much clueless & Pitt disregard as an AD. Coaches & ex players need to be on selection committee & then just select the first eight out for an additional play in tournament. The NIT is pretty… Read more »

Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
1 month ago

More than ironic, Duquesne winning the A-10 fed into one less bid for an at-large team and Pitt was apparently in that group of final at-large teams ‘out’.

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