Pitt women’s basketball announces Tory Verdi as new head coach


Image via Pitt Athletics

Pitt women’s basketball’s new coach, Tory Verdi, enters the Petersen Events Center on Friday.

By Brian Sherry, Assistant Sports Editor

After a month-long search, the Panthers announced former UMass coach Tory Verdi as the new women’s basketball head coach on Friday. Verdi will take the reins following former Panther head coach Lance White’s firing from the program.

“Today is such an exciting day,” Verdi said in his introductory press conference on Friday. “Today is the day we start winning. We will win and we will win big. I say that with such confidence because I’ve been doing it for the past 25 years.”

Verdi is an experienced head coach, as he previously was at the helm of three different teams. He started his coaching career as the head assistant and interim head coach of Columbia in 2004-05. Following his short stint in the Ivy League, Verdi accepted an assistant position at Nebraska and eventually Kansas. 

Verdi finally got a head coaching position at Eastern Michigan in 2012, where he coached until leaving for UMass in 2016. The new Pitt head coach was dominant in his time at UMass, leading the Minutewomen to a 127-85 record in his seven seasons with the team. 

But now, Verdi is focused on winning at Pitt. The former UMass coach will have his work cut out for him if he wants to turn the program around. Pitt women’s basketball has not finished with a winning record since the 2014-15 season. Nevertheless, Verdi said he believes that Pitt is capable of winning, despite the recent mediocrity. 

“I know that we can win here,” Verdi said. “I felt it from the moment I stepped foot on campus today. Today, we will act like winners. Today, we will carry ourselves like winners and today, we will look like winners.”

Verdi has lofty goals for the program. After years of inadequate play, Verdi said he wants to see the Panthers win. While he acknowledged Pitt’s recent lack of success, Verdi also believes Pitt has the potential to dominate in the near future. 

“I am prepared for this moment,” Verdi said. “This program is a sleeping giant and it needs to be awakened. The lack of success within this program has scared many coaches off — but not me.”

This hire comes after Pitt fired former Panther head coach Lance White last month. The former Panther coach struggled to find success, going 42-99 in his five years at Pitt. Coming into the year, it was clear that this season was White’s last opportunity to keep his job. With his job on the line, White finished the year 10-20.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said she was grateful for White’s time at Pitt, but it was time for a coaching change. 

“Coach White has been wholeheartedly dedicated to the betterment of his student-athletes and women’s basketball at Pitt,” Lyke said in a statement. “I’m extremely grateful for his efforts and wish him only the very best moving forward, both personally and professionally.

Verdi and Lyke previously worked together at Eastern Michigan, making it an easy transition for the pair. 

“For two years, I watched coach Verdi’s work ethic,” Lyke said in Verdi’s introductory press conference. “I saw how he built relationships with his players. I saw his interactions with our donors and the community. I saw his concept of family come to life.”