Donna Sanft was named the interim athletic director by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg Tuesday about the same time that former AD jeff Long was being introduced at a press conference as the new Arkansas AD.
"Pitt's my home, and I've been really fortunate to be part of the Pitt family for a long, long time,'' Sanft said. "So, as I've been working in the athletic department, my responsibilities have changed pretty frequently, but I've had an opportunity to do a lot of different things. And, internally, I've touched every aspect of our program.''
Sanft was surprised to hear that Long was leaving, primarily because she didn't know anything about it. But she wished he and his family the best as they move on to Arkansas. There was no timeline in place to choose a new AD, since Chancellor Nordenberg's committee was just formed. The previous search lasted some five months.
One name that can be eliminated from the search is current Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt. Being an AD is not in his current plans. He's just focused on getting the Panthers ready to face Michigan State.
"I have confidence in the Chancellor and Jerry Cochran, and I will be totally, 100 percent supportive of the choice and look forward to helping and assisting to make our athletic department and our school better.
"It's something that I know I could do and be very successful at it, but right now ... we'll see if we can make Michigan State punt. That's about where my mind's at right now. ... I've got a great feel for where we're at from a football standpoint and more importantly where we need to go.''
Sanft said that being promoted to athletic director on a full-time basis was "not in her plans at this point and time,'' but she was in place to "do what the Chancellor has asked her to do and that's provide leadership during this interim period.''
Long said he expected to return to Arkansas within a month, but Sanft believed he would work with her in a brief transition period before he left town. While it's a crazy time for the Pitt football program, it's rather calm in other areas. No new coaches are needed, and the Big East Conference is much stronger than it was when Long took over.
"I'm very grateful to Jeff and the Chancellor for doing an amazing job being leaders in the Big East Conference, as well as at the University of Pittsburgh, and we are in great shape right now,'' Sanft said.
"We have a great team in place right now in the athletic department, and we can keep moving forward and making progress as the Chancellor moves through his process. So, we'll see how this all plays out.''
Chancellor Nordenberg's AD search committee will be chaired by Jerry Cochran, Pitt's Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel. The committee will include Susan Albrecht, Pitt NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative; Tom Bigley, Board of Trustees and Former Chair of the Athletics Committee; Marcus Bowman, Pitt Director of Athletic Business Operations and Former Pitt Student-Athlete; Kirk Bruce, Pitt Assistant Athletic Director for Olympic Sports and Former Pitt Student-Athlete; John Conomikes, Board of Trustees and Chair of the Athletics Committee; and Carol Sprague, Pitt Senior Associate Athletic Director.
The AD search committee is expected to get started immediately.
Sanft Interim AD; Wannstedt Doesn't Want Job
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