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Five key obstacles to tackle for new AD Barnes

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

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When Pitt introduced Scott Barnes as Pitt’s athletic director in late April, he assumed the face of an entire athletic department fielding numerous questions — especially following the dismissal of former director Steve Pederson.

As Barnes prepares to begin his tenure at Pitt on June 15, here are the five things that Pitt fans will be looking for him to accomplish as Pitt Athletics’ new head.

Branding

This past football season, Steve Pederson made waves by, seemingly out of nowhere, changing Pitt football’s logo from the block lettering to the script lettering seen in years past in Pitt sports. Still, the football team was the only program to adopt the new logo. It will be interesting to see how Barnes handles the moniker debacle. Will he see it as an opportunity to rebrand the entire University? Will he have all other athletic teams adopt the retro logo? Surely there is a lot of revenue to be made from blue and gold script merchandise, and fans have been clamoring for more availability of the items since the logo had been gone.

On-campus Stadium

This isn’t to say that Barnes’ goal is to determine whether or not to build an on-campus football stadium. This is to say that Barnes needs to do a better and clearer job of dispelling those hopes as pipe dreams. With all the yearning for a Pitt football stadium in Oakland over the years, Steve Pederson was not able to make the unattainable demand go away. Instead, what Barnes needs to help accomplish is facilitate a more efficient system of transporting students to and from games. It is possible to have a great game day environment without having an on-campus stadium — Barnes just needs to help prove that reality.

Program Stability

This particularly applies more to the football program, as the program has had more turnover in the head coaching department in the past handful of years than some programs have in decades. Barnes needs to help establish some type of stability at the helm of Pitt football, and that will focus on new head coach Pat Narduzzi. Maintaining Narduzzi will help solidify Pitt as a destination job, not a launching pad for higher positions. He’ll also have to remain vigilant with men’s basketball. While Jamie Dixon absolutely should not be in danger of losing his job, the recent downtick over the past four years is something that Barnes needs to keep an eye on.

Establish Stances

 Within the current state of the NCAA, there are many pressing issues that have risen to the forefront of sports discourse. From athlete compensation to transfer rules to alcohol sales at games, many of these debates have blurred lines between right and wrong. Without going into what stances I think Barnes should take, it would be nice to see a leader of an institution like Pitt’s athletic program help propagate change in some of these areas. Barnes, who already has a national presence as the former chairman of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, could use his voice to help alleviate some of the Association’s riddling problems.

Build the Buzz

It’s a weird dynamic to have, but Barnes needs to continue to build off of the work that head coach Pat Narduzzi has begun in terms of establishing and improving Pitt’s standing with the fanbase and on social media. Barnes should try to mimic Narduzzi’s willingness to put himself out there with fans, students and alums. Increasing visibility of himself increases visibility for the program in general.

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Five key obstacles to tackle for new AD Barnes