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Pitt

Heather Lyke's goal for Pitt: Trophies and a case to display them

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, June 8, 2018, 1:03 p.m.
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke sits down with reporters after her first 90 days on the job Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke sits down with reporters after her first 90 days on the job Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at Petersen Events Center.

The next time Pitt wins a championship — in the ACC or on a higher level — athletic director Heather Lyke wants to make sure everyone knows about it. The trophies will be displayed prominently, she said.

Plans are being formulated, and funding has been discussed for a redesign of the lobby of Petersen Events Center that will include a trophy case.

That's sounds like a simple enough project, but Lyke believes it's long overdue.

July 1 marks the fifth anniversary of Pitt's membership in the ACC, and Lyke wants those first two team championship trophies in wrestling (2013-14 regular season) and women's volleyball (2017) to get their proper exposure.

Speaking Thursday at the Spirit of St. Anthony Breakfast at the Rivers Club, Lyke told the audience, including Pitt donors, about how she found the wrestling trophy one day. It was tucked away in a room at the Fitzgerald Field House, sitting on an end table.

“I was dumbfounded,” she said. “What are you going to do with the second one?” she asked, rhetorically. “Put it on the other end table?”

Lyke also wants to trumpet Pitt's nine national championships in football, won between 1915 and '76.

Recently, she was meeting with several prominent Pittsburgh businessmen when she asked them if they know how many football championships Pitt has won.

She said the answers were “two, four.”

“How many has Oklahoma won?” she asked.

“Oh, like, six, eight.” (Actually, seven.)

“How many has Penn State won?”

“Oh, nine,” they answered.

“No, two,” she corrected. “Oklahoma plus Penn State equals Pitt. They didn't know this.

“Real Pittsburgh people don't know because it's not displayed anywhere (except at Pitt's training facility on the South Side).”

So, the next time Pitt wins a trophy, Lyke wants to order two.

“You always have one in the coach's office because that's where you're recruiting,” she said. “You close deals. You have to have trophies around.

“But you don't just want it in the coach's office. You want it in a public display.”

Lyke said she pitched the idea of a trophy case to donors and hopes the project will get started soon.

“We have to redesign all that.”

Lyke's other initiative is engaging Pittsburgh's professional sports teams and other local businesses. Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse recently spoke at Pitt's leadership retreat.

“I was scribbling a lot,” Lyke said.

Plus, Pitt asked the Pirates to start their game Sept. 8 at PNC Park six hours earlier so it won't conflict with the Penn State game at night.

“That was a big ask and a favor,” she said. “If you don't have a relationship, that doesn't happen.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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