Update: Keith Gavin Named Pitt Wrestling Coach

PITTSBURGH – The long and twisting road that was the Pitt coaching search led back to a familiar name: Keith Gavin.

The Panthers introduced Gavin as the team’s next coach on Thursday in a move first reported by PA Power Wrestling. Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke announced the move in an email to Pitt wrestling alumni, but said that the university would not issue a press release on Thursday in the wake of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney’s death.

“Keith is a dynamic leader who is full of passion and committed to making Pitt one of the top programs in the country,” Lyke said. “I am confident he will be a tremendous asset to our Department of Athletics and will represent our University with class. I know Keith is anxious to connect with everyone as he takes over as our new head coach.”

Gavin did not immediately respond to interview requests.

The hire came just hours after South Dakota State’s Chris Bono, the Big 12 Coach of the Year, became the latest head coach to interview for the job and then back away from the Panthers’ opening, joining Lehigh’s Pat Santoro and Edinboro’s Tim Flynn in that group.

Lyke struggled to fill the job. In addition to the three who turned down the job, she interviewed former Army head coach Joe Heskett, who had been out of coaching and was working as an administrator at West Virginia.

Financial details of Gavin’s deal were not released, but a source told PA Power Wrestling that Pitt offered Bono twice as much as the $110,000 salary that he was making as the Jackrabbits coach.

Fan reaction to Gavin’s hire was mixed, with a highly unscientific Twitter poll revealing that 33 percent saw it as a “great hire” while 29 percent said it was “OK.” Twenty-two percent said the Panthers “missed out on better guys.”

PA Power Wrestling spoke with a pair of incoming recruits, and both were pleased with the hire.

Gavin will have some tough decisions as far as filling out his staff at Pitt. Drew Headlee and Matt Kocher served as co-head coaches after Pitt fired Jason Peters in January following off-the-mat issues that had dogged the team.

Pitt finished in a tie for 32nd at the NCAA Tournament this season with ACC rival Duke. Pitt also was tied with Oklahoma, where Gavin just wrapped up his first season as an assistant coach with the Sooners under first-year coach Lou Roselli. Gavin spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Virginia.

After winning the 2008 NCAA title at 174 pounds, Gavin stayed on as a graduate assistant at Pitt. He also was an NCAA runner-up in 2007. He went 120-37 at Pitt.

The Factoryville native was a member of the U.S. National Team for seven years, wrestling under Roselli at the Ohio Regional Training Center. He took second at the 2015 U.S. Open.

He finished third in the PIAA Tournament as a high school senior at Lackawanna Trail.

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