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Pitt athletic director Barnes takes job at Oregon State

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016, 7:27 p.m.
Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes holds a press conference on the future of Pitt Basketball at Petersen Events Center on the school's Oakland campus on Monday, March 21, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes holds a press conference on the future of Pitt Basketball at Petersen Events Center on the school's Oakland campus on Monday, March 21, 2016.

Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes, who hired a basketball coach and focused on fundraising and fan engagement during his 20 months on the job, has been named to the same position at Oregon State, Pitt announced Thursday.

Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said a search will begin immediately for “the next great leader of Pitt athletics.”

It was a move that Barnes and Gallagher said was family related.

“Ultimately, we felt this was a choice we had to make based on some very important personal family considerations,” Barnes said in a statement.

Barnes will work closely with Gallagher to assure a smooth transition in coming weeks, Pitt said. Oregon State said Barnes will assume duties at the Pac-12 school Feb. 13.

“Scott Barnes is an outstanding athletic director and has been wholeheartedly committed to the success of our student-athletes during his time at Pitt,” Gallagher said. “I am very sorry to see him leave, but I know that Scott is doing what is best for his family, and I wish them well as he takes on his new role at Oregon State.”

Barnes' name first surfaced in connection with the Oregon State position in September after former AD Todd Stansbury left for Georgia Tech.

“Upon accepting the athletic director position at the University of Pittsburgh more than 18 months ago, I mentioned how honored and humbled my family was to join the ‘Pitt Family,' ” Barnes said. “During our time here, we've learned, more and more, how fitting that description really is. Pitt is an incredibly special place with wonderful people who have become like family for us.”

Barnes, who was born in Spokane, Wash., and spent most of his professional life on the West Coast, has a connection to Oregon State having hired football coach Gary Andersen at Utah State in 2009.

Barnes' career in sports administration has spanned 27 years and eight schools. He was athletic director at Utah State for eight years before coming to Pitt.

“My focus now turns to building the next chapter in Pitt Athletics,” Gallagher said. “We are launching a national search to identify the next great leader of our athletics program — one that helps offer student-athletes both a great education and a chance to win at the highest levels of collegiate sports.”

Gallagher hired Barnes in April 2015 to replace Steve Pederson, who was fired in December 2014. One of Barnes' first initiatives was to put together a Panther Fan Experience Committee that sought opinions and suggestions from people outside the university.

In January, Barnes held a Town Hall-type meeting on campus, answering questions from an audience of more than 500 people.

Among his goals were to increase attendance at Heinz Field and improve relations with fans. But after Pitt sold a record 55,630 football season tickets — spurred by the renewal of the Penn State rivalry — attendance dropped below 40,000 for games in November against Duke and Syracuse.

Barnes, 54, came to Pitt from Utah State, where he had developed a reputation as an effective fundraiser, and he said donations had increased in the past year.

In addition, he oversaw a detailed master plan this spring that outlined future goals and proposed ongoing facility upgrades, including at Petersen Events Center, Trees Pool and the Duratz football complex on the South Side.

Also under Barnes' watch, the popular Pitt script branding logo returned to campus on everything from uniforms to coffee mugs.

Barnes' most controversial move at Pitt was hiring basketball coach Kevin Stallings, who had been at Vanderbilt for 17 years.

Many Pitt fans were hoping for a higher-profile hire and were upset when it was revealed Barnes used a search firm whose founder hired Stallings at Vanderbilt and worked with Barnes at the University of Washington. Pitt is 10-2 this season under Stallings.

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

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