Search committee in place for new Pitt athletic director

Feb 10, 2015 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Sam Werner

Pitt announced Tuesday the formation of a 14-member search committee for its next athletic director.

The group is chaired by interim athletic director Randy Juhl, who is not a candidate for the job, and includes two current coaches, two current student-athletes and two former athletes, as well as other administrators.

The committee will be assisted by DHR International, a Chicago-based search firm that has recently undertaken athletic director hirings at Fresno State, Colorado State and Holy Cross.

Women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, a member of the committee, said after her team's practice Tuesday that the search was still in "the very early stages" and that it was too early to even think about identifying potential candidates.

Ultimately, the committee's job is narrow the pool of potential athletic directors to a small number and present that group to chancellor Patrick Gallagher, who will make the final decision.

"I just think you look for the right fit," McConnell-Serio said. "This is all new to me. First time I'm on a search committee. I will learn as the process goes."

Gallagher reiterated Tuesday a point he made in an interview last month: He wants an athletic director who will be able to step into the role right away.

"Athletics is important, but we want to see athletics thrive in the context of being part of the university, and I am certain that all of the members of the search committee understand and support that goal," he said in a statement. "The job of athletic director has been growing increasingly complex, and I am confident that the search committee will be able to identify top candidates who can come in and be a great athletic director immediately, not somebody who's going to be growing in that role over a period of years."

Pitt already has received interest from potential candidates, Juhl said. He added that he expects the pool to include current athletic directors as well as "rising stars within other university's athletic departments."

"I am hopeful that the search committee will be able to finish its work this spring," Juhl said.

Gymnast Lindsay Offutt and football player Artie Rowell, who also was selected to be a student-athlete representative in the NCAA's new autonomy process in November, are the two current athletes on the committee.

They are joined on the committee by former football players Bryant Salter, James "Jimbo" Covert and Justin Acierno. Salter and Covert serve on Pitt's Board of Trustees, while Acierno is an assistant athletic director for ticket sales and operations.

In addition to McConnell-Serio, the other current coach on the committee is track and field/cross country coach Alonzo Webb.

Pitt has been without a full-time athletic director since Dec. 17 when Gallagher fired Steve Pederson, who held the post for 13 years from 1996-2002 and 2007-14.

Along with Juhl, the members of the committee are:

Justin Acierno: assistant athletic director, Ticket Sales and Operations; former Pitt football student-athlete

Susan Albrecht: faculty athletics representative (FAR); Student-Athletes Admissions Advisory Committee member; associate professor of nursing

James Covert: Pitt board of trustees; former Pitt football student-athlete

Dave DeJong: vice provost, Academic Planning and Resources Management; Senate Athletics Committee; chair, Student Athletes Admissions Advisory Committee; professor of economics

Jay Irrgang: co-chair, Senate Athletics Committee; professor of orthopedic surgery

Suzie McConnell-Serio: head coach, Pitt Women's Basketball

Wendy Meyers: executive associate athletic director and athletics chief financial officer

Al Novak: vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement

Lindsay Offutt: Pitt Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) officer; Pitt gymnastics student-athlete

Artie Rowell: president, Pitt Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC); Pitt football student-athlete

Bryant Salter: Pitt board of trustees; former Pitt football student-athlete

Jen Tuscano: assistant director, Academic Support Services; academic counselor

Alonzo Webb: head coach, Pitt Track and Field/Cross Country

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