When it comes to sports, a little bit of chemistry can go a long way. The Pitt Panthers will get just that from their new acting athletic director, Randy Juhl.
Juhl has spent the majority of his time at the University of Pittsburgh as a distinguished service professor in the School of Pharmacy, with his research focused on how prescription drugs metabolize in the human body. By the time he retired from his professorial duties in 2015, he had attained the positions of vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance and dean emeritus of pharmacy. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced Monday that Juhl would serve as the temporary athletic director after Scott Barnes steps down from the position on January 20.
Barnes, who oversaw Pitt Athletics for less than two years, is leaving the University to take the same job at Oregon State. While Barnes has publicly stated that he regrets not being able to spend more time in Pittsburgh, the Spokane, Washington, native cites family health concerns as his main motivation for moving back to the Pacific Northwest.
Barnes’ stint as athletic director at Pitt was brief, but it was eventful. He made the decision to transition Pitt’s branding away from the block Pitt and returned the logo to the fan-favorite classic script design. In a much more controversial move, he replaced longtime head basketball coach Jamie Dixon with Kevin Stallings.
Although Juhl has spent most of his career in academia and not in sports, it won’t be his first time serving as an interim athletic director.
After Steve Pederson — Pitt’s AD from 1996 to 2002, and again from 2007 to 2015 — was dismissed from his role, Gallagher tapped Juhl for the same job he will take now.
Juhl previously was on the four-person committee that hired head football coach Pat Narduzzi away from Michigan State as a replacement for Paul Chryst in December 2014. Since Dec. 23, 2016, Juhl has also chaired the search committee charged with the task of finding Barnes’ replacement.
Gallagher revealed in a press release how much providing departmental continuity factored into his decision.
“I have asked Randy to resume this role in order to minimize disruption within our athletic department and facilitate coordination with the ongoing search process for our next athletic director,” Gallagher said in the release.
If his past tenure is any indication, Juhl will head Pitt Athletics for a short period of time. His last stint as acting athletic director lasted only four months before Barnes, who was hired away from Utah State, replaced him. The first official day of Juhl’s temporary hire is Jan. 20.
“With Randy as our acting athletic director, we will continue to move forward with our strategic plan,” Gallagher said. “Our shared goal is to maintain our outstanding momentum in advancing Pitt Athletics.”