Pitt names new deputy AD for external affairs

Chris Peak

Lair Hall of Famer
Staff
Jun 19, 2004
69,828
87,382
113
Press release:

University of Pittsburgh director of athletics Heather Lyke announced today the hiring of Christian Spears as deputy director of athletics for external affairs.

Spears, the deputy director of athletics under Lyke at Eastern Michigan the past three years, will have oversight of all revenue generation activities and fundraising, ticket operations, marketing, game presentation, broadcasts and video, branding, licensing, merchandising, multimedia rights, strategic communications and media relations.

“I am honored and more than excited to announce that Christian Spears will be joining our team as deputy athletic director for external affairs,” Lyke said. “Christian brings to Pitt a dynamic personality combined with strategic thinking and the ability to build genuine relationships both internally and externally. His natural leadership skills, positive energy and intellect will make a significant impact at Pitt. I am looking forward to working together to build a team focused on providing extraordinary experiences for everyone connected to Pitt Athletics.”

“What an amazing time to join the staff at Pitt,” Spears said. “We have an opportunity to capitalize on some genuine momentum and sincere passion for making Pitt Athletics a tremendous source of pride for our university and the Pittsburgh community. I am thrilled to join Heather's team as we all work to enhance the experiences of the students we serve. I look forward to building great relationships while we continue to advance excellence at Pitt.”

Spears was a vital administrative figure during a highly productive period for Eastern Michigan Athletics. In leading the department’s external division, he had oversight of development, marketing, corporate partnership efforts, fan experience and media relations.

Spears also assisted with the administration of the football program and was responsible for football scheduling. He currently serves college football on the national level as a member of the College Football Playoff Advisory Committee.

On the strength of its first bowl berth in nearly three decades, the Eagles’ football program experienced a 100% increase in total season ticket growth from 2014 to 2016. Last fall, Eastern Michigan achieved a 7-5 regular season and earned a berth in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, EMU’s first postseason invitation since 1987.

Spears was instrumental in helping Eastern Michigan produce record-breaking fundraising results, including the highest number of donors and most cash received in program history. EMU Athletics garnered the largest cash gift in the university's history ($6 million) in 2017.

After Lyke accepted the director of athletics position at Pitt, Spears assumed the responsibilities of interim director of athletics at Eastern Michigan.

Prior to EMU, Spears spent five years at Northern Illinois (2009-14) as deputy director of athletics. While at NIU, he served as the lead administrator for the Huskies’ football team—including the nationally ranked 2012 squad that earned an Orange Bowl berth—as well as the men’s basketball, baseball, cross country and track and field programs.

Spears had direct oversight of no fewer than seven areas at Northern Illinois, including academics, compliance, life skills, strength and conditioning, sport psychology, football operations and equipment. He additionally was the lead coordinator for NIU’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR).

Spears served as Northern Illinois’ acting director of athletics for nearly five months in 2013. During that time, the Huskies’ football program had record-breaking efforts in both season-tickets and ticket revenue when compared to prior years.

From 2003-09, Spears was an assistant athletic director at Southern Illinois University, where he had administrative oversight of compliance as well as student-athlete financial aid and eligibility. He was an assistant director of athletics for compliance at Harvard University from 2002-03.

Spears launched his collegiate athletics career as an assistant director of marketing at Long Beach State (1996-99). He then served as the Big Ten Minority Intern for Ohio State working in their athletic compliance office while he matriculated through the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State.

Spears graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1996. He earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Long Beach State in 1998 and he received his Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law in 2002.

Spears and his wife, Julia, have three children, Rainier, Kai and Skyla.
 

Las Panteras

All Conference
May 11, 2014
5,215
5,185
113
Another press release from Pitt....welcoming yet another administrator......fundraiser.....assistant this......associate that......

All I can think about is the hamster....forever running in the metal wheel....never getting anywhere.....
 

Panther Parrothead

Lair Hall of Famer
Gold Member
Jul 6, 2001
36,625
19,733
113
If he's as successful selling tickets and fund-raising at Pitt as he was at Eastern Michigan, then I'll call it a solid hire. Having seen his job performance firsthand, our new AD must have faith in him.....
 

PhPanther1

Sophomore
Apr 16, 2016
2,500
1,384
113
Can you people please give the man a chance.

Ya I know. Pitt beat out a lot of schools going after this hot commodity.

You don't see this as somebody creating a new highly paid position strictly to bring their buddy along from their previous employer? I have seen this quite a few times at work. The boss 90% of the time is a snake and their lackey that follows them from job to job talks a big game and is totally incompetent.

But hey, keep thinking this is what has been missing from the Athletic Department.
 

PittSquared

Scholarship
Jul 5, 2001
406
292
63
Can you people please give the man a chance.

No. No, they cannot.

Based on their careful dissection of a press release, Pitt fans have concluded that this guy is a lackey beneficiary of Heather Lyke's largesse, an ultra-liberal Barnes clone, and doomed to become the next victim in an ever-ending cycle of failure. What a miserable bunch of human beings.
 

cruzer

All Conference
Jul 27, 2001
5,512
1,363
113
Press release:

University of Pittsburgh director of athletics Heather Lyke announced today the hiring of Christian Spears as deputy director of athletics for external affairs.

Spears, the deputy director of athletics under Lyke at Eastern Michigan the past three years, will have oversight of all revenue generation activities and fundraising, ticket operations, marketing, game presentation, broadcasts and video, branding, licensing, merchandising, multimedia rights, strategic communications and media relations.

“I am honored and more than excited to announce that Christian Spears will be joining our team as deputy athletic director for external affairs,” Lyke said. “Christian brings to Pitt a dynamic personality combined with strategic thinking and the ability to build genuine relationships both internally and externally. His natural leadership skills, positive energy and intellect will make a significant impact at Pitt. I am looking forward to working together to build a team focused on providing extraordinary experiences for everyone connected to Pitt Athletics.”

“What an amazing time to join the staff at Pitt,” Spears said. “We have an opportunity to capitalize on some genuine momentum and sincere passion for making Pitt Athletics a tremendous source of pride for our university and the Pittsburgh community. I am thrilled to join Heather's team as we all work to enhance the experiences of the students we serve. I look forward to building great relationships while we continue to advance excellence at Pitt.”

Spears was a vital administrative figure during a highly productive period for Eastern Michigan Athletics. In leading the department’s external division, he had oversight of development, marketing, corporate partnership efforts, fan experience and media relations.

Spears also assisted with the administration of the football program and was responsible for football scheduling. He currently serves college football on the national level as a member of the College Football Playoff Advisory Committee.

On the strength of its first bowl berth in nearly three decades, the Eagles’ football program experienced a 100% increase in total season ticket growth from 2014 to 2016. Last fall, Eastern Michigan achieved a 7-5 regular season and earned a berth in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, EMU’s first postseason invitation since 1987.

Spears was instrumental in helping Eastern Michigan produce record-breaking fundraising results, including the highest number of donors and most cash received in program history. EMU Athletics garnered the largest cash gift in the university's history ($6 million) in 2017.

After Lyke accepted the director of athletics position at Pitt, Spears assumed the responsibilities of interim director of athletics at Eastern Michigan.

Prior to EMU, Spears spent five years at Northern Illinois (2009-14) as deputy director of athletics. While at NIU, he served as the lead administrator for the Huskies’ football team—including the nationally ranked 2012 squad that earned an Orange Bowl berth—as well as the men’s basketball, baseball, cross country and track and field programs.

Spears had direct oversight of no fewer than seven areas at Northern Illinois, including academics, compliance, life skills, strength and conditioning, sport psychology, football operations and equipment. He additionally was the lead coordinator for NIU’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR).

Spears served as Northern Illinois’ acting director of athletics for nearly five months in 2013. During that time, the Huskies’ football program had record-breaking efforts in both season-tickets and ticket revenue when compared to prior years.

From 2003-09, Spears was an assistant athletic director at Southern Illinois University, where he had administrative oversight of compliance as well as student-athlete financial aid and eligibility. He was an assistant director of athletics for compliance at Harvard University from 2002-03.

Spears launched his collegiate athletics career as an assistant director of marketing at Long Beach State (1996-99). He then served as the Big Ten Minority Intern for Ohio State working in their athletic compliance office while he matriculated through the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State.

Spears graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1996. He earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Long Beach State in 1998 and he received his Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law in 2002.

Spears and his wife, Julia, have three children, Rainier, Kai and Skyla.

That job description pretty much sounds like the AD. What a gig...pay me hundreds of thousands a year to do a job and then I get to turn around and hire someone else to do the actual work. I suppose that Spears will go out and hire a consulting firm to take on all that work.

I love academia.

Cruzer
 
  • Like
Reactions: Swervin27

Joe the Panther Fan

Lair Hall of Famer
Jul 6, 2001
37,942
17,696
113
You don't see this as somebody creating a new highly paid position strictly to bring their buddy along from their previous employer?


Perhaps you missed it, but the person that had this position previously left a month or so ago. Oddly enough, it was a sign of Pitt's incompetence when he left, and hiring his replacement is also a sign that Pitt is incompetent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ThePanthers

vegasgreed

Assistant Coach
Sep 8, 2003
9,172
1,384
113
The admin is more interested in GPA than wins. Pitt thinks "small time" way to often when it comes to sports. Who knows, maybe there are more coming from eastern michigan.




How many more can we bring in from Eastern Michigan....
 

counselor10

Redshirt
Nov 4, 2007
699
222
43
There is NO question this hire is someone Lyke feels comfortable with. Let's hope this guy can fill seats for our major venues. However, what I don't get is why are they not hiring someone in this position who knows the region, people and culture? A 65,000 seat capacity is a lot different than a 30,000 seat stadium so I guess we will see if this hire is a success.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PhPanther1

DiehardPanther

Heisman Winner
Apr 26, 2017
8,973
8,081
113
There is NO question this hire is someone Lyke feels comfortable with. Let's hope this guy can fill seats for our major venues. However, what I don't get is why are they not hiring someone in this position who knows the region, people and culture? A 65,000 seat capacity is a lot different than a 30,000 seat stadium so I guess we will see if this hire is a success.
God could command Pitt alums to attend all home games at Heinz, and it still would not be filled. This is much ado about nothing. The key is whether or not they can bring in money from the wealthy boosters.
 

counselor10

Redshirt
Nov 4, 2007
699
222
43
God could command Pitt alums to attend all home games at Heinz, and it still would not be filled. This is much ado about nothing. The key is whether or not they can bring in money from the wealthy boosters.
Totally agree. I guess what I am trying to say is we all know how tough of a challenge it is to fill the stadium. This administration has never really had a strong/aggressive staff to sell Pitt football 24/7, 365. Pitt needs to be more aggressive and active in selling and focusing not just solely on the students and alums. They need to start selling and marketing better. As you may know, it's all about the experience as well. Go outside and find a true CRO/marketer who can move the needle. I could be completely wrong, but doing the same thing over and over.....well you know where this is going.
 

DiehardPanther

Heisman Winner
Apr 26, 2017
8,973
8,081
113
Totally agree. I guess what I am trying to say is we all know how tough of a challenge it is to fill the stadium. This administration has never really had a strong/aggressive staff to sell Pitt football 24/7, 365. Pitt needs to be more aggressive and active in selling and focusing not just solely on the students and alums. They need to start selling and marketing better. As you may know, it's all about the experience as well. Go outside and find a true CRO/marketer who can move the needle. I could be completely wrong, but doing the same thing over and over.....well you know where this is going.
They should be playing in a 50k seat facility. Since this is not possible - they must tarp it to approximately 50k seat capacity. Winning consistently and an attractive opponent are the 2 best ways to improve attendance. Pitt does not have a big pool to draw from. There are a lot of fans and alums of schools in the area that we compete against. It is what it is. We are in the same boat as TCU, BC, Cincy, GT, Vandy, Minnesota, Miami, etc. Nobody expects them to draw 68k per game, so why do some people expect Pitt to do so.
 
Last edited:

Joe the Panther Fan

Lair Hall of Famer
Jul 6, 2001
37,942
17,696
113
Can you elaborate?


What is there to elaborate on? When Julio Freire left a month or so ago the consensus on this board was that it was proof that Pitt was incompetent because an athletic administrator hired by an AD who was no longer here decided to move on. Now Freire's replacement has been hired, and you have people here saying that it's proof that Pitt is incompetent because the new person who was hired is someone who knows the current AD.

I guess if you are looking for the shorthand version, Pitt fans like to bitch. Especially about things they have no idea about.
 

ThePanthers

Head Coach
May 4, 2009
13,190
4,122
113
What is there to elaborate on? When Julio Freire left a month or so ago the consensus on this board was that it was proof that Pitt was incompetent because an athletic administrator hired by an AD who was no longer here decided to move on. Now Freire's replacement has been hired, and you have people here saying that it's proof that Pitt is incompetent because the new person who was hired is someone who knows the current AD.

I guess if you are looking for the shorthand version, Pitt fans like to bitch. Especially about things they have no idea about.
Amen.
 

pittmeister

Heisman Candidate
May 26, 2010
7,501
7,110
113
Sounds like Mr. Spears did a great job at EMU and deserves the benefit of a doubt. Where would most of us be if there wasn't someone in our lives who recognized our hard work and believed that we could do even a better job? Give the man a chance.

Or we could find another candidate at a bigger school like.... Nebraska. That should guarantee a great hire.... Oops...