The University of Pittsburgh announced Friday the hiring of Scott Barnes as its Athletic Director. Barnes had been the Vice President and Director of Athletics at Utah State since March of 2008. Barnes will begin his duties at Pittsburgh on July 1.
"Scott has been an absolutely essential member of our senior administrative team, and we are sad to see him go," said USU President Stan L. Albrecht. "The fact that he has been courted by programs across the country, including the University of Pittsburgh, is surely a testament to the outstanding job he has done here at Utah State and to the amazing success he has brought to all of Utah State's athletics programs. We certainly will miss his skills as one of the best AD's in the country, bar none. In my mind, he is the model for what an athletic director should be."
During his seven years at Utah State, Aggie Athletics captured 20 conference championships, in addition to football winning back-to-back-to-back bowl games for the first time in program history, while playing in a school-record four-straight bowl games. In fact, over the past three seasons, USU is one of just four FBS programs to win three-straight bowl games and record at least 30 wins.
"Scott is a person of extreme integrity at all levels of life, not just athletics, and that core integrity of his carries through all of our athletics programs, both on and off the field," added Albrecht. "He is a leader in every sense of the word and a mentor to so many people - students and fans alike. On a personal note, he has become a dear, dear friend to me and to so many other people in our community. This is a great opportunity for Scott, and we wish him, Jody and his family all the best as they make this move."
Another component to Utah State's upward trajectory under Barnes has been the continued growth of its infrastructure with the completion of its $6.5 million, 26,329 square-foot ICON Sports Performance Center in 2013 and its $9.7 million, 32,000 square-foot Wayne Estes Center, which houses both men and women's basketball and volleyball, in 2014. USU also recently announced a multi-year partnership with Maverik, Inc., for naming rights to its football stadium that will serve as a catalyst for renovations to the west side of the stadium, including a four-story premium seating and press box structure.
"Seven of the best years of our lives as a family were spent at Utah State and the friends we made are for a lifetime," said Barnes. "I can't thank Stan Albrecht and Jim Laub, and so many others, enough for welcoming and supporting us. We will always have fond memories of Logan and Utah State University."
Fundraising has played an integral part in Utah State's growth during Barnes' tenure as a new emphasis on personal interaction and communication with donors has resulted in all-time fundraising records in the Big Blue Scholarship Fund and major gifts over the past seven years. Included are the two largest lead gifts in USU Athletics history - $5.25 million for the Wayne Estes Center and $3.7 million for the ICON Sports Performance Center. To date, five $1 million-plus gifts have been secured for facility projects.
Utah State, in partnership with Nike, also rolled out a new athletics branding initiative in 2012, and Barnes recently negotiated a new $2.4 million Nike apparel contract that delivers a substantial increase over the previous deal.
Barnes also led efforts to develop a comprehensive football competitive excellence plan that increased private funding to football by $2.5 million via the Merlin Olsen Fund and also worked effectively with student leadership to pass a student referendum that has increased funding to athletics by $2.2 million annually.
Barnes has also garnered national attention as he was named the 2013-14 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year and served as the chair on the NCAA men's basketball committee during the 2014-15 academic year to conclude his five-year appointment.
The university has not decided on a time frame yet for a search to fill the vacant position.
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