The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Sports news students may have missed over summer

Sports Editor Brian Sherry provides new and returning students with an update of sports stories they may have missed over the summer.
Redshirt+freshman+wide+receiver+Che+Nwabuko+%2821%29+runs+with+the+ball+during+the+Pitt+football+spring+game+on+April+15+at+Acrisure+Stadium.%0A%0A
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Che Nwabuko (21) runs with the ball during the Pitt football spring game on April 15 at Acrisure Stadium.

Over the summer, some students struggle with keeping up to date with the fast-paced, ever-changing environment of Pitt athletics. But fear not — The Pitt News sports desk has compiled a summary of the major sports news stories that took place while students were off-campus. 

Here are some of the biggest stories from over the summer.

Pitt football signs team-wide NIL deal

Surprisingly, one of the biggest sports stories surrounding Pitt athletics has little to do with sports itself. Instead, it mostly deals with money.

In early August, Alliance 412 — a Pitt-based NIL collective headed by Pitt alumni and supporter Chris Bickell — announced a deal with the football program that will provide all players on the team with an NIL payment. While the exact numbers are still unknown, reports suggest that the total sum of the deal is worth around $1 million, meaning each player will likely receive a few thousand dollars each. 

NIL — which stands for name, image and likeness — enables college athletes to earn a profit off of their own personal brand. 

This is a major breakthrough for not just Pitt but the entire realm of college football. As of date, only BYU, Texas Tech and now Pitt have teamwide NIL deals that provide payments to all players.

Alliance 412 also announced the creation of Oakland Originals — a “marketing and digital platform behind Alliance 412 that empowers athletes to develop and manage their personal brands in the NIL era.” The marketing initiative hopes to help Pitt athletes earn more out of NIL and help Pitt become a competitive program in the new era of college sports. 

Ultimately, this breakthrough could help Pitt football with recruiting and keeping players in the new era of college sports. 

Several programs get new coaches for 2023

Pitt athletics made a significant effort in searching for and hiring new coaches for its less successful programs over the summer, just as it did in the spring this year.

Arguably the biggest coaching hire of the summer came from the cross country program, as Pitt athletics announced the hiring of Griff Graves as the new cross country and distance head coach for 2023. 

Graves — who was previously an assistant coach at Syracuse — will hope to turn around a Pitt cross country team that has failed to meet expectations in recent years. Last season, the men’s cross country team made some progress, as they placed 10th in the ACC with one runner — junior Jack Miller — placing 27th individually. But the women’s team still lagged behind, placing 13th in the conference. 

Another major coaching development came from the women’s basketball team, as new head coach Tory Verdi brought on two assistant coaches — Brandon Jackson and Chloe Hatfield — to help lead the team in 2023. Jackson and Verdi previously worked together at Eastern Michigan and UMass, where Jackson worked in video operations. 

Finally, Pitt baseball hired former Delaware assistant coach Chris Collazo as an assistant coach for 2023. 

The ACC is in turmoil 

The biggest story permeating throughout all of the NCAA this summer was the mass conference realignment that will forever change the landscape of college athletics in just one year.

In early August, the PAC-12 was hit with a major blow after eight of the conference’s 12 teams announced that they will change conferences starting in 2024. The implosion of the conference started last summer after USC and UCLA announced plans to move to the Big Ten. But now, after key teams like Oregon and Washington also decided to depart the PAC-12 as well, it seems the 108-year-old conference is on its last legs.

The aftershock of the PAC-12’s disastrous end rippled across the country to hit the ACC and Pitt hard. The conference made an attempt to capitalize off of the PAC-12’s end by engaging in discussions with Stanford and Cal to join the ACC, but the negotiations ultimately stalled.

This comes after seven teams from the ACC attempted to leave the conference earlier this summer. Right now, the conference’s grant of rights agreement — a deal which essentially prohibits teams from leaving the ACC until 2036 — is keeping it alive. Nonetheless, the future of the ACC is looking bleaker and bleaker by the day. 

But where does this leave Pitt? As it stands, it appears Pitt has no plans to leave the ACC anytime soon. Head football coach Pat Narduzzi even expressed concern with the current state of realignment and said he is happy with ACC commissioner Jim Phillips’ efforts to keep the league alive. 

Still, with growing uncertainty surrounding the conference’s future, the Panthers may still need to find a new home in the near future. 

 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor