PITT HIRES GLENOAK GRAD HEATHER LYKE AS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Glenoak graduate Heather Lyke, who has 22 years of athletic administration experience at the collegiate level, was hired the new Athletic Director at the University of Pittsburgh on March 20. Lyke served in that same capacity at Eastern Michigan the past four seasons and becomes the first female AD in Pitt's 106 year history.

“Heather Lyke's track record exemplifies her dedication to student-athletes. She has a passion for success in the classroom, on the playing field and in life after graduation," Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said. "She is the perfect person to lead our Department of Athletics into a new era of excellence, and I am thrilled to welcome her and her family to Pitt."

"There was incredibly high interest in the position from seated athletic directors and top deputies," said Dr. Randy Juhl, who was Pitt's acting athletic director and chair of the search committee that recommended candidates. "But as we proceeded, Heather's breadth of experience, her achievements at EMU and her fit to the values of the University and our region made the committee's recommendation an easy choice."

Gallagher nand Juhl weren't kidding when they praised Lyke, whose path from Glenoak to Pitt is filled with impressive accomplishments. Lyke had a stellar softball career at Michigan, where she lettered four years as a first baseman and captained the Wolverines to the 1992 Big Ten Championship. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Education at Michigan along with a Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law.

Here's a look at Lyke's administrative career

NCAA, 1995-96, enforcement intern.
CINCINNATI, 1996-98, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Senior Woman Administrator.
OHIO STATE, 1998-2002, Associate Athletic Director for Sport Administration, Compliance and Camp Operations; 2002-12, Associate Athletic Director for Sport Administration; 2013, Senior Associate Athletic Director.

A member of the athletic department's executive team and a lead figure in the development of the Buckeyes' strategic plan. Lyke directly oversaw 10 of Ohio State's 36 athletic programs and had oversight of all facets of the athletic councils involving budget, revenue generation, facilities and OSU's golf course operations.

She additionally supervised the Buckeyes' sport performance division, which included the strength and conditioning coaches, athletic training staff and sports medicine staff. Lyke also developed Ohio State's first student-athlete internship program, "Bucks Go Pro."


BIG TEN NETWORK, 2009-13, Softball Color Analyst.
EASTERN MICHIGAN, 2013-17, Vice President and Director of Athletics.
PITT, 2017, Director of Athletics.

Lyke's work at Eastern Michigan probably got the most attention from the Pitt search committee, and with good reason. The EMU program was a virtual doormat prior to Lyke's arrival, and below is a summary of it's accomplishments under her leadership.

Mid-American Conference Excellence: As a member of one of the nation's most competitive athletic conferences, Eastern Michigan annually distinguished itself in the MAC under Lyke's watch. During her tenure, the Eagles captured 16 MAC team championships, garnered 17 MAC Coach of the Year awards and had nearly 400 MAC All-Academic honorees. For the first time in school history, Eastern Michigan was honored with the MAC's prestigious Cartwright Award for all-around athletic department excellence (2013-14) and the Jacoby Award for female athletic excellence (2014-15).

A revitalized football program, on the field and in the stands: Behind a record-setting offense in 2016, the Eagles achieved a 7-5 regular season and earned a berth in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, EMU's first postseason invitation in 29 years. Eastern Michigan had a 100% increase in total season ticket growth from 2014 to 2016. Moreover, the football program boasted the top team grade point average in the MAC for the second consecutive year.

Record-breaking academic success: With Lyke's unyielding emphasis on classroom performance, Eastern Michigan achieved a record 81% Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for 2015-16. During the 2016 fall semester, Eagles student-athletes earned the highest term (3.238) and cumulative (3.266) grade point averages in the history of EMU Athletics.

High-impact fundraising initiatives: In 2014, Lyke conceived and implemented "Eagles Pride," the first annual fund in Eastern Michigan Athletics history. Providing financial support for all EMU teams, Lyke's vision for engagement produced record-breaking results with the highest number of donors and most cash received in program history. Lyke garnered the largest cash gift in the university's history ($6 million) in 2017.

National recognition for athletic department efficiency and effectiveness: Last September, Eastern Michigan received the Excellence in Management Cup presented by Texas A&M's Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics. The "EM Cup" annually recognizes the athletic department that best maximizes fiscal resources through championship victories. EMU ranked No. 1 out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools for 2015-16.

Enhanced Eastern Michigan facilities: Lyke spearheaded numerous capital improvement projects for EMU Athletics. Perhaps the highest profile was the installation of college football's first gray Revolution Field Turf playing surface in 2014. Dubbed "The Factory" in honor of the region's automobile industry history, the field was selected No. 2 among all colleges in a USA TODAY fan vote (behind only the University of Tennessee). Lyke additionally created a future vision for EMU's athletics infrastructure with "The Championship Building Plan," a facility master plan that is set to transform Eastern Michigan's athletic department and set it up for long-term sustained success.

Lyke now turns her attention to enhancing the athletic tradition at Pitt, which includes filling Heinz Field for football games on a regular basis.

"It is an incredible honor to accept the director of athletics position at the University of Pittsburgh," Lyke said. "I am grateful to Chancellor Gallagher and the search committee for the opportunity to lead this athletic department filled with dedicated student-athletes, coaches and staff. Pitt has such a storied tradition and great expectations. I am thrilled to be part of Chancellor Gallagher's team. There is a tremendous pride in the Blue and Gold, and we will work extremely hard to make our alumni, donors, community and University even more proud. With all of us working together, I am confident we can build winning teams and a winning culture for Pitt Athletics."

 


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