Football: Pitt officially announces Graham’s resignation

By Lauren Kirschman

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson officially announced that former Pitt football coach Todd… Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson officially announced that former Pitt football coach Todd Graham resigned his position and that Pitt has already started the search for its next head coach.

“I am confident we will have great interest in the job from some outstanding candidates,” Pederson said in a Pitt press release.

Arizona State Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love and Chief Operating Officer Steve Patterson announced earlier on Wednesday that Graham accepted the head coaching position as Arizona State.

Graham requested permission from Pederson on Tuesday evening to speak to another institution, a Pitt press release said. Pitt denied Graham permission and “was asked to sit down in person to discuss everyone’s best interest in the situation.”

The release stated that “there had been no earlier indication of a desire to leave his position at Pitt” and that “the University of Pittsburgh had been entirely positive and that his decision was based solely on personal family reasons.”

Pitt defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will serve as Pitt’s interim head coach for the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7. Last season, the Panthers played Kentucky in the Compass Bowl without former head coach Dave Wannstedt, who resigned under pressure. Interim head coach Phil Bennett coached that game.

“Obviously this is not the way we would have expected Mr. Graham to handle any possible departure,” Pitt executive vice chancellor and general counsel Jerry Cochran said in the release. “Beyond normal expectations with respect to professional conduct, he has failed to comply with the terms of his contract.”

Pederson said that the commitment of the Pitt football players “has been unwavering and they deserve better than this as they look forward to completing their season with a bowl.”

“We also understand the disappointment that will be felt by our man fans and supporters,” Pederson said.

This will mark Pitt’s third coaching search in a year. After Wannstedt resigned, the Panthers hired Michael Haywood and fired him shortly after he was a arrested for a felony domestic abuse charge in South Bend, Ind.

At a court hearing on Feb. 11, Haywood entered a court diversion program in Indiana, which requires 60 hours of community service and a psychological evaluation. If he completes the deal, the charges will be dismissed in one year.

Pitt hired Graham as Haywood’s replacement.

Graham spent one season at Pitt, finishing the the year 6-6. This isn’t the first time Graham would leave a school after one season. He coached Rice for one season in 2006 before leaving for Tulsa.

Pederson will speak to the press at 5:30 at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.