After just two seasons spent running the once-proud Pitt basketball program straight into the ground, Kevin Stallings has been fired. I thought Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports reported the news first, until a commenter later informed me a Pitt blogger named Chris Dokish had actually done so. Credit where it’s due.
Major college basketball coaches rarely get fired after two seasons when there isn’t a scandal involved, but Stallings, 57, presided over a team that went winless in the ACC—the only Division I program to lose every conference game this season. After a 12-3 start to his first season in 2016-17, Stallings’s teams went 12-38 during the remainder of his tenure. The Panthers’ ACC mark across Stallings’s two seasons was 5-34. Christ, you get the idea. During Tuesday’s first-round ACC tournament loss to Notre Dame, the ESPN2 broadcast crew kept complimenting Pitt on how hard it played and how much the Panthers refused to quit—a family-friendly way of saying, “Wow, this team sucks.”
Stallings was hired in March 2016 by then-athletic director Scott Barnes, who spent 18 months on the job and who found Stallings through a search firm that was teeming with conflicts of interest: Barnes had previously worked for the firm’s president, who had also hired Stallings at his previous stop at Vanderbilt. Whatever merits Stallings might have as a coach, five players transferred out after last season and few reinforcements were recruited to keep the program above ground. Athletic director Heather Lyke typically doesn’t travel with the Pitt hoops team, but she made the trip to Brooklyn for Tuesday’s ACC tourney loss. Clearly, she had seen enough.
According to Colin Dunlap of Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan, Pitt is on the hook for a $9.4 million buyout of Stallings’s contract. Another host from The Fan, Andrew Fillipponi, reported Wednesday night that Pitt officials would meet with Stallings’s camp this morning to negotiate, and that firing Stallings with cause could be on the table. That may or may not be posturing, but Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported that the two sides are still trying to bargain over terms.
Next up for Lyke will be to hire a replacement to bring Pitt hoops back from the dead.