McDonald's® has inked a three-year extension of its sponsorship of Pitt athletics. The agreement between Pitt IMG Sports Marketing and local McDonald's restaurants includes signage, radio, game day and social media advertising, logo usage, and promotional opportunities.
Pitt IMG Sports Marketing and the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department have announced a three-year marketing and services partnership agreement with Cricket Wireless.
In Pitt's long and storied athletics history, perhaps there has never been a more anticipated year than the Panthers' inaugural campaign in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
On July 1, 2013, the University of Pittsburgh officially joined the ACC. Panther faithful commemorated the event with a special evening celebration on the city's North Shore. Earlier that day in New York City, ACC commissioner John Swofford formally welcomed the Panthers with a ceremony in Times Square.
Amid the ceremonies and celebrations was Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson. For him, the arrival of ACC membership opened an exciting new era of possibilities for the Panthers. Joining one of America's elite conferences also served as the culmination of a vision conceived when he first arrived at Pitt in 1996.
At that time, Pederson took charge of an athletic department that was perhaps at its lowest end both competitively and from an infrastructure standpoint. Fast forward 17 years and Pitt is now enjoying an impressive period of growth and accomplishment.
By any athletic or academic measure, the Panthers have experienced an energized renewal under Pederson's watch. Aged facilities have been replaced by state-of-the-art training and competition venues. Championship banners have been hung as have a record number of diplomas. Trophy cases and student-athlete grade-point averages are expanding.
The ACC's invitation reinforced Pitt's stature in the world of intercollegiate athletics and has the Panthers poised for even greater heights in the future.
"Our athletic programs never have been better positioned for future success," Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said. "That is a real tribute to the hard work and effective leadership provided by Steve Pederson as Pitt's athletic director.
"Just two years ago, during a period of significant conference instability, Steve was a driving force in helping us to find the best possible conference home. When we received an invitation to join the ACC, Pitt not only had the chance to move to an outstanding athletic conference but also became aligned with some of the nation's most prestigious academic institutions. The ACC is a perfect fit for the University of Pittsburgh, and our receipt of their invitation reflects well on both our overall institutional strength and on the tremendous progress made in Pitt athletics under Steve's guidance.
"As we begin this exciting new era of ACC competition, we all have high aspirations for each of our programs. The creativity, strength and stability of Steve's continued leadership will be an important asset as we pursue those lofty goals."
Pederson works diligently to ensure Pitt Athletics remains a direct reflection of the University of Pittsburgh and its guiding values of education, commitment and mentoring. "We will work hard to win," Pederson said. "But we will work harder to win the right way. We want Pitt Athletics to reflect the very best attributes of this great university and its educational mission.
"This is an exciting time to be at the University of Pittsburgh. I am fortunate to work with this great athletic department staff and together we are helping to guide each of our student-athletes as they aspire to excellence academically, athletically and personally."
Pederson's philosophy for the department is "Only Big Dreams." The Panthers will work hard and aim high in every endeavor on and off the field. Using those values as a foundation, Pitt Athletics under his watch continues to thrive and grow. Among the recent Pitt points of pride:
Each of Pitt's 19 intercollegiate athletic programs met or surpassed the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards during the most recent evaluation period. Nine Pitt teams were above the Division I average score in their particular sport, while six teams achieved their highest score ever.
Pitt has raised a three-year record of more than $23 million in donations to the Panther Club annual fund, which subsidizes student-athletes scholarships. The record total was achieved despite the recently challenging economic times that all supporters of collegiate athletics face.
Pitt Athletics surpassed its $150 million goal in the university's "Building Our Future Together" campaign, which provides valuable resources for endowments, capital improvements and athletic scholarships.
Pitt opened the Petersen Sports Complex, a state-of-the-art home for baseball, softball and men's and women's soccer. Built on 12 acres at the peak of upper campus, the facility not only gives Pitt student-athletes nationally competitive facilities, but it also has rejuvenated a previously untapped area of land that neighbors the university.
Pederson forged a media partnership with CBS Radio Pittsburgh, providing Pitt football and basketball with a 50,000-watt flagship home in Sportsradio 93.7 "The Fan." Women's basketball also has a strong radio home in 1320 WJAS-AM, which provides live play-by-play action of each regular-season and postseason game, marking the first time the women's program has enjoyed such coverage.
Pederson ensured the Panthers would be one of the finest outfitted programs in the country through an athletics apparel partnership with NIKE. Each of Pitt's 19 intercollegiate sports teams wear NIKE footwear, uniforms, practice gear and equipment. The long-term agreement outfits more than 450 Pitt student-athletes.
Through the Cathy and John Pelusi Family Life Skills Program, Pitt continues to develop well-rounded student-athletes away from the athletic arena. This past year, student-athletes contributed nearly 3,000 hours of charitable work for various organizations in Western Pennsylvania and beyond.
The 2013-14 academic year marks the seventh year of Pederson's second tour at Pitt. During his initial tenure (1996-2002), Pederson hired six Big East Conference Coach-of-the-Year honorees (football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, track and field and volleyball), an unprecedented achievement by a Big East athletic director. The Panthers' highest-profile sports - football and men's basketball - experienced impressive revivals. After going to just one postseason game during the 1990s, Pitt football has gone bowling 10 of the past 13 years. The men's basketball program has become one of the country's most consistent winners, capturing six Big East titles and advancing to 11 NCAA Tournaments from 2002-13.
Pederson oversaw a major strengthening of Pitt's athletic infrastructure. With Chancellor Nordenberg, he helped shape the vision of the Petersen Events Center, the state-of-the-art convocation center that dramatically revolutionized Pitt's campus upon its opening in 2002. The Events Center is considered one of the finest college basketball venues in the country and has also been a major asset for student life, providing outstanding recreational facilities and a fitting place for graduation ceremonies.
Pederson was at the forefront of the football program's move into the UPMC Sports Performance Complex, which included the forging of a unique relationship between UPMC, a professional sports franchise and college athletic program. He personally oversaw the design and layout of the Panthers' Duratz Athletic Complex, which houses Pitt's football offices and training areas. It has been described as the finest facility for a college football program in the country.
Pitt football gained a sparkling new home stadium in Heinz Field under Pederson's watch in 2001. The Panthers own a prominent presence at the stadium with their logos on the seating, gates and signage. Pederson additionally initiated the renaming of Martindale Street to "Tony Dorsett Drive" to further enhance Pitt's identity on the North Shore.
Over the course of one decade, Pitt either built new venues or significantly renovated existing facilities for 17 of its 19 programs, making it one of the most dramatic infrastructure enhancements in all of college sports.
During his five years at Nebraska (2002-07), Pederson was also at the forefront of significant facilities construction, including a $51 million expansion to Memorial Stadium. The project resulted in new football facilities as well as new strength, sports medicine and indoor facilities for baseball, softball, soccer and sand volleyball. Additionally, the women's volleyball, gymnastics and rifle teams received a new office complex.
Nebraska achieved at exceptional levels athletically and academically during his time in Lincoln. In 2006-07, the Cornhuskers won the national championship in women's volleyball, while the football team won the 2006 Big 12 North title and advanced to its first New Year's Day bowl game since 2001. Overall, 15 Nebraska teams earned NCAA invitations. Academically, Nebraska earned a school-record 94% graduation rate, the highest in the Big 12 as Cornhusker student-athletes achieved a combined 3.0 grade-point average during the 2007 spring semester.
In addition to his duties as athletic director at Pitt, Pederson serves on the board for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation in Pittsburgh as well as the Pittsburgh Symphony. He is also a community leader for the American Heart Association's Heart Walk.
He and his wife Tami have three children: Mark, Kari and Kristin. Mark and his wife Brooke gave Steve and Tami their first grandchild, Claire, last fall. Additionally, Kari was married to Jim Miketo in August 2012.