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U. of Pittsburgh
The Pederson Years

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Significant events during Steve Pederson's tenure as athletic director at Pitt.

1996

Oct. 28: Pederson introduced as new athletic director, succeeding Oval Jaynes. Says priorities are revitalizing football program, building new basketball arena.

Nov. 25: Football Coach Johnny Majors resigns after posting 12-32 record in four seasons.

Dec. 16: Pederson hires Walt Harris as football coach.

1997

April 2: Pederson fires seven, reassigns 18 in 106-member athletic department.

Aug. 4: Pitt unveils new colors, football uniforms and logo, replacing the script Pitt logo used since the 1970s. Pederson says it is part of a "new look and new attitude."

October: Pitt starts collecting $1,000 per seat fee from season ticket holders for blue-back premium seats in Fitzgerald Field House.

Dec. 1: Pitt football team, after 6-5 season, accepts invitation to the Liberty Bowl, Pitt's first bowl since 1989.

1998

Jan. 21: After being lobbied by Pederson and Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Gov. Ridge pledges $38 million in state funds toward the construction of a $52 million convocation center, $25 million more than the state had earmarked earlier.

April 13: Traci Waites hired as women's basketball coach, replacing Kirk Bruce, who had resigned.

June 3: In an effort to get more affiliates to carry football and basketball broadcasts, Pitt ends its 29-year relationship with WTAE-AM, forms its own radio network and choses KQV-AM as its flagship station. The flagship is shifted to WRRK-FM two years later.

Aug. 24: Pederson and Steelers President Dan Rooney acknowledge that they have discussed the possibility of Pitt becoming a tenant in the Steelers proposed North Side stadium. Some Pitt fans and alumni, fearful that Pitt Stadium will be razed, react angrily.

Nov. 10: UPMC announces plans for a South Side sports complex, which will include practice facilities for Pitt and the Steelers.

1999

Feb. 1: After four losing seasons in five years, basketball Coach Ralph Willard resigns.

March 3: Pederson hires Ben Howland as basketball coach.

March 18: At the urging of Pederson and Nordenberg, Pitt trustees vote to raze 75 year-old Pitt Stadium after the 1999 season, play the 2000 season in Three Rivers Stadium, then move to the new Steelers stadium. The new arena will be built on the Pitt Stadium site.

June 22: Alumnus John Petersen and his wife, Gertrude, donate $10 million toward the construction of the convocation center, which will be named for them.

Nov. 13: Pitt upsets Notre Dame, 37-27, in the last game at Pitt Stadium.

2000

March 14, 2000: Pederson extends Harris' contract through 2006 season.

June 15, 2000: Ground broken for Petersen Events Center. By completion, it will cost $96.4 million.

Sept. 16, 2000: Pitt defeats Penn State, 12-0, at Three Rivers Stadium in the last meeting of the rivals. The series was not extended because Penn State wanted more home games.

2001

Sept. 1: Pitt defeats East Tennessee State, 31-0, in its first game at Heinz Field.

2002

March 10: Pitt men's basketball team gets NCAA tournament bid after posting 27-5 season. It is the first NCAA bid in nine years.

March 25: Pederson extends Howland's contract through 2008-09 season. The $700,000 annual package makes Howland the university's highest-paid employee.

Aug. 31: The new 12,500-seat Petersen Center is sold out for the 2002-03 season.

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