Pitt announces Scott Barnes as new athletic director

By Jeremy Tepper / Staff Writer

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This summer, a new regime will take charge of Pitt athletics.

Pitt introduced former Utah State University athletic director Scott Barnes as its new athletic director at a press conference on Friday. He will start in his new role on July 1. Barnes had served in the same capacity at Utah State since March 2008 and will replace Steve Pederson, Pitt’s former athletic director. Pederson mutually agreed to part ways with the University last December after two stints in the position, once from 1996-2002 and once from 2007-2014. Randy Juhl, vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance, has served as Pitt’s interim athletic director since Pederson’s departure.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and the rest of his search committee, made up of 10 members of the University community, including coaches, alumni, administrators and student athletes, picked Barnes after an exhaustive search spanning four months.

Gallagher said Barnes’ ideals match up with his own — he wants Pitt’s athletes to represent the University.

“Specifically, I was looking for a shared vision of excellence,” Gallagher said. “Scott clearly shares our belief that we should pursue excellence in all that we do and that a student can be good in both athletics and academics.”

Barnes reciprocated the sentiment, praising Gallagher’s vision for Pitt athletics.

“It starts with the Chancellor,” Barnes said. “Chancellor Gallagher’s vision for excellence is critical to the success of the athletic program.”

Without this relationship and shared vision, success isn’t possible, Barnes said.

“Without alignment, athletics cannot reach it’s goals,” Barnes said. “We must be aligned and we must be partners with the greater University good.”

When reviewing candidates for the position, Gallagher said he was looking for four qualities: leadership, teamwork and engagement, execution and the ability to start right away. All of these qualities, he said, Barnes exemplified.

Gallagher said Pitt has all the pieces necessary to be successful, and he wanted the new athletic director to utilize those pieces immediately.

“We have the student athletes here now, we have the coaches here now. We have great facilities. We have the fanbase. We have the passion and the energy,” Gallagher said.

While considering Barnes as a candidate, Gallagher was impressed with his ability to execute his goals, notably Utah State’s fundraising efforts, success of the football and basketball programs and the expansion of the school’s infrastructure.

“He knows how to get things done,” Gallagher said. “Yes, the vision is there, and yes, the desire is there, but he works with everyone to create a specific plan.”

This ability to push matters forward and have achievements to show donors has been pivotal in Barnes’ fundraising success.

“If you’re a donor and you want to make a difference, the vision’s great, but you also want to have the confidence if you make a gift, it’s going to happen and it’s going to be transformative,” Gallagher said.

In Barnes’s time at Utah State, he set all-time fundraising records for the school, led by two of the largest gifts in Utah State history: one donation for $5.25 million and another for $3.7 million.

Building strong relationships as well as casting a wide net are also important in fundraising success, Barnes said.

“It’s about relationships. It’s about listening,” Barnes said. “It’s about matching interests and ability to give to important projects. Setting a vision that people can grab onto and get excited about.”

In Pitt, Barnes sees the potential for substantial fundraising success — part of his reasoning for accepting the position. That, combined with his admiration for the city of Pittsburgh, Pitt’s history, tradition and strong academics, convinced Barnes to take the position.

Barnes said when deciding, it didn’t hurt that head basketball coach Jamie Dixon “is one of the most well respected coaches in college basketball,” and that new head football coach Pat Narduzzi “carries similar visions and excitement.”

“I love the fact that we’ve got new energy in our football coach in Coach Narduzzi,” Barnes said.

Though he doesn’t start officially until July, Barnes said he’ll start early with fundraising efforts and his other responsibilities.

“This is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. And we have great passion for that lifestyle,” Barnes said.

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