Pittsburgh Panthers

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Pittsburgh Panthers
University University of Pittsburgh
Conference ACC
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Scott Barnes
Location Pittsburgh, PA
Varsity teams 19
Football stadium Heinz Field
Basketball arena Petersen Events Center
Baseball stadium Charles L. Cost Field
Softball stadium Vartabedian Field
Soccer stadium Ambrose Urbanic Field
Other arenas Fitzgerald Field House
Trees Pool
Mascot "ROC" the Panther[1]
Nickname Panthers
Fight song Hail to Pitt
Pitt Victory Song
     Blue       Gold
Website pittsburghpanthers.com
Kiosk in the Great Hall at Heinz Field celebrating Pitt's 1976 football National Championship

The Pittsburgh Panthers, commonly also referred to as the Pitt Panthers, are the athletic teams representing the University of Pittsburgh, although the term is colloquially used to refer to other aspects of the university such as alumni, faculty, and students. Pitt fields 19 university-sponsored varsity teams at the highest level of competitive collegiate athletics in the United States: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for american football).

Varsity men's sports sponsored by the university are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and wrestling; while sponsored women's varsity sports include basketball, cross country, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and volleyball. All varsity sports teams compete as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), with the exception of the gymnastics team competing in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League. The university also maintains membership in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

The university's athletic program is one of only five current NCAA Division 1A schools to have won multiple national championships in both football (9) and basketball (2), and the Panthers have been ranked as having among the best combinations of football and basketball programs by multiple publications. Other sports have won a variety of conference titles, regularly compete in NCAA championship events, and have produced a plethora of professional and olympic athletes.

Department of Athletics

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Athletics administers the 19 men's and women's varsity sports teams, as well as the spirit groups such as the Pitt Band and Pitt Cheerleaders. The Athletic Department also provides student-athlete academic support, the Panther Game Plan student-athlete life skills program, athletic training, marketing, development, media relations, and other support and administrative services and divisions.


The university's athletic program is one of only five current NCAA Division 1A schools to have won multiple national championships in both football (9) and basketball (2), and the Panthers have been ranked as having among the best combinations of football and basketball programs by multiple publications. Pitt was ranked as having the fifth best combination of football and basketball programs in CBSSports.com's Flourishing Five ranking in 2010.[2] In its "Hoops & Helmets" list of the best combinations, CollegeFootballNews.com ranked Pitt ninth in 2011,[3] fifth in 2010,[4] third in 2009,[5] 30th in 2007,[6] 26th in 2006,[7] 12th in 2005,[8] fourth in 2004,[9] and third in 2003.[10] Pitt was also ranked 19th for the best combined football and basketball programs during the BCS era[11] and among the top 25 between 1974 and 2008[12] by Rivals.com. In addition, ESPN.com used the Sagarin mathematical system to rate universities based on the strength of their performance in football and men's basketball for five years through 2006 and found Pitt was tied for 10th as one of the nation's top two-sport schools.[13] Further, in a 2006 all-sports ranking done by Sports Illustrated on Campus, Pitt was ranked 17th among all of the country's universities in terms of the overall strength of its athletic program.[14]

Scholar athletes

Joe Walton was both a First Team Athletic and Academic All-American in 1956

Each year the university honors student-athletes who have achieved academic success during the University of Pittsburgh Scholar-Athlete Awards Breakfast where it hands out Blue and Gold awards to student-athletes who have earned over a 3.0 GPA. The 2012 calendar year, Pitt's last competing in the Big East Conference, out of approximately 450 Pitt athletes, 350 achieved a GPA of 3.0 or above, with 16 earning a perfect 4.0. In addition, 148 student-athletes were named as Big East Academic All-Stars and 26 members of the football team were named to the all-academic Big East football team. This does not include 15 additional athletes from the wrestling and gymnastics teams that compete in other conferences.[15] In 2010, volleyball standout Meagan Dooley was named the Big East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the university's seventh male or female Big East scholar-athlete of the year winner since the award was instituted in 1985.[16] Dooley was also awarded one of 87 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships for women in 2010.[17]

Varsity sports

The University of Pittsburgh sponsors in 19 varsity sports in NCAA Division I (Division I FBS for football), the highest competitive level of intercollegiate athletics in the United States. All Pitt varsity sports teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) except for women's gymnastics which competes in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League.

Current university-sponsored varsity sports teams include:

Pitt baseball circa the 1890s


Baseball, Pitt's oldest varsity sport started in 1869[18] and has produced multiple All-Americans, Major League Baseball players, and was a regular threat in the Big East Baseball Tournament championship.[19] The baseball team was ranked in the top 25 during several of the past seasons and moved into a new facility, the Charles L. Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex, in 2011. Pitt baseball is coached by Joe Jordano, winner of the Chuck Tanner Baseball Award in 2010.[20]

NCAA tournament appearances (3): 1959, 1965, 1995
Conference Championships: Tournament (1): 1995; Regular Season (1): 1994


Men's basketball

Pitt began playing men's basketball in 1905 and soon become a national power. In the era preceding the initiation of national tournaments, the Panthers were both contemporaneously[21][22] and later retroactively, by the Helms Athletic Foundation (1927–28 and 1929–30) and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll (1927–28), regarded as national champions.[23] Those teams, coached by the innovative Naismith Hall of Fame inductee "Doc" Carlson, were led by National Player of the Year and Hall of Famer Charlie Hyatt. Following a Final Four appearance in 1941, Pitt appeared in a handful of NCAA tournaments throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including an Elite Eight appearance in 1974 led by All-American Billy Knight. Pitt entered the Big East Conference in 1982, and by the end of the decade had secured a pair of Big East regular season championships led by All-Americans Charles Smith and Jerome Lane. The last decade has been an era of consistent national and conference competitiveness that included 10 straight NCAA tournament appearances with five Sweet 16 appearances and an Elite Eight appearance in 2009. In total, Pitt has 25 NCAA appearances, seven Sweet Sixteen appearances, 10 conference regular season championships, four conference tournament championships, ten conference tournament championship game appearances, and 37 players drafted to play professionally with the most recent being Sam Young and DeJuan Blair. Pitt men's basketball plays its home games at the Petersen Events Center and is coached by Jamie Dixon.

National Championships (2 Helms): 1927-28, 1929-30 (23-2)
NCAA Final Four (1): 1941; Elite Eight (3): 1941, 1974, 2009; Sweet Sixteen (7): 1957, 1974, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009
NCAA tournament appearances (25): 1941, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1974, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014
NIT appearances (9): 1964, 1975, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2015
Conference Championships: Tournament (4): 1981, 1982, 2003, 2008; Regular Season (10): 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1987, 1988, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011

Women's basketball
The undefeated 1924-25 Pitt women's varsity basketball team

The Pittsburgh Panthers women's varsity basketball program started during the 1914–1915 school year and lasted until 1927 before going on hiatus until 1970. Pitt's women's team has posted several NCAA, NWIT, and EAIAW regional tournament appearances. Between 2006 and 2010, Pitt has appeared in the national rankings and advanced to five straight post-season tournaments. Included in that stretch are three NCAA Tournament bids which resulted in Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2008 and 2009. Pitt women's basketball plays its home games at the Petersen Events Center and is coached by Suzie McConnell-Serio.

NCAA Sweet Sixteen (2): 2008, 2009
NCAA tournament appearances (4): 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015
NWIT/WNIT appearances (5): 1981, 1994, 2000, 2006, 2010
Conference Championships: Regular Season (1): 1984

Cross country

Men's and women's cross country at Pitt host home meets at adjacent Schenley Park and is overseen by head coach Alonzo Webb with distance assistant Adam Bray.

Men's NCAA Top Ten finishes (3): 1951, 1953, 1954
Men's NCAA championship appearances (7): 1951, 1953, 1954, 1964, 1970, 1975, 1990
Men's IC4A Championships (2): 1924, 1955


Traditionally the most popular sport at the University of Pittsburgh, football has been played at the highest levels at the University since 1889. During the more than 125 years of competitive football at Pitt, the University has helped pioneer the sport by, among other things, instituting the use of numbers on jerseys,[24] having the first live radio broadcast of a college football game,[25] and desegregating the Sugar Bowl.[26] Some of football's all-time greatest coaches and players have plied their trade at Pitt, including Pop Warner, Jock Sutherland, Marshall Goldberg, Joe Schmidt, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Hugh Green, Mark May, Dan Marino, Bill Fralic, Curtis Martin, Larry Fitzgerald Darrelle Revis and LeSean McCoy. Among the top schools in terms of all-time wins,[27] Pitt teams have claimed nine national championships[28] and boast 87 players that have been chosen as first-team All-Americans. Pitt football plays its home games at Heinz Field and has practice facilities located at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.

National Championships (9 claimed): 1915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1976
Undefeated seasons (8): 1904, 1910, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1920, 1937, 1976
Eastern and Conference Championships (14): 1925, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1955, 1976, 1979, 1980, 2004, 2010
Bowl appearances (31): Rose (4), Fiesta (4), Sugar (3), Gator (3), Sun (3), BBVA Compass (3), Insight (2), Tire/Car Care/Belk (2), Cotton (1), Tangerine/Capital One (1), Tangerine/Champs Sports (1), Liberty (1), Armed Forces (1), Motor City/Little Caesars (1), Bluebonnet (1)


Pitt women's gymnastics has qualified for the NCAA Regional Championship in twenty different season.[29] Pitt is one of only 22 schools in the nation to claim an individual national champion, Lisa Shirk who won the uneven bars in 1982. Pitt Gymnastics hosts home meets at Fitzgerald Field House, has a Gymnastics Training Center at the adjacent Trees Hall, and is led by head coach Debbie Yohman.

AIAW / NCAA national championship appearances (1): 1981
Individual National Champions: 1
EAIAW / NCAA regional championship appearances (21): 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013


Pitt soccer in action during the first round of the 1965 NCAA tournament

Pitt field competitive ACC varsity teams for men's and women's soccer. Men's soccer is coached by Jay Vidovich while women's soccer is coached by Greg Miller. Both programs moved into a new facility, Ambrose Urbanic Field at the Petersen Sports Complex, in the spring of 2011.

Men's NCAA Elite Eight (1): 1962; Sweet Sixteen (1): 1965
Men's NCAA tournament appearances (2): 1962, 1965
Men's Conference Championships: Regular Season (2): 1981, 1985


Softball was founded as a varsity sport at Pitt in 1998 and entered the Big East in 1999 and ACC for the 2013-14 season. In 2011, Pitt won a program record 34 games in a single record en route to a team record third straight winning season and was the ACC Tournament runner-up in 2015. The team moved into a new softball facility, Vartabedian Field at the Petersen Sports Complex, in 2011. Pitt softball is coached by Holly Aprile.

NCAA tournament appearances (1): 2015

Swimming and diving

Pitt Swimming and Diving competes in Trees Pool

Pitt's Swimming and Diving teams have produced several Olympians and dominated the Big East Conference having won 19 men's and 9 women's Big East Championships while a member of that conference between 1983 and 2013. The Swimming and Diving teams train and compete at Trees Pool. The men's team first competed in 1913 while the women's team was founded in 1974. Both men's and women's swimming are coached by head coach Chuck Knoles while diving is coached by Julian Krug. The women's swimming team is assisted by Assistant Head Coach Jeff Berghoff.

Men's NCAA championship appearances, team scored (19): 1938, 1953, 1954, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008
Men's Conference Championships (41): 1934, 1938, 1940, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Women's NCAA championship appearances, team scored (13): 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2015
Women's Conference Championships (10): 1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991


Pitt women's tennis host matches at an indoor facility at Alpha Tennis & Fitness of Pittsburgh in Harmar and an outdoor facility at Washington's Landing. Tennis is coached by Alex Santos.

Track and field

Olympic gold medal winner John Woodruff is part of Pitt's tradition in Track and Field

In Track and Field, Pitt has produced several Olympic and NCAA champions such as 800m Olympic gold medalist John Woodruff, two-time 110m hurdle Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom, and 7-time NCAA champion and 2005 World Champion triple jumper Trecia-Kaye Smith.[30] Pitt track and field is coached by Alonzo Webb.

At the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Pitt men have finished as high as fifth place, while the Pitt women have finished as high as third.

Men's NCAA Indoor Top Ten finishes (4): 1971, 1986, 1987, 1988
Men's NCAA Indoor championship appearances, team scored (18): 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014
Men's Indoor Individual National Champions: 6
Men's Indoor Conference Championships (1): 1987

Women's NCAA Indoor Top Ten finishes (4): 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999
Women's NCAA Indoor championship appearances, team scored (11): 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006
Women's Indoor Individual National Champions: 7
Women's Indoor ECAC Championships (3): 2001, 2004, 2005; Conference Championships (3): 1989, 1999, 2005

At the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Pitt men have finished as high as 8th place, while the Pitt women have finished as high as 9th.

Men's NCAA Outdoor Top Ten finishes (2): 1928, 1929
Men's NCAA Outdoor championship appearances, team scored (31): 1921, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2006, 2013, 2014, 2015
Men's Outdoor Individual National Champions: 12
Men's Outdoor IC4A Championships (2): 1940, 2014; Conference Championships (2): 1989, 1994

Women's NCAA Outdoor Top Ten finishes (2): 1994, 1999
Women's NCAA Outdoor championship appearances, team scored (13): 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006
Women's Outdoor Individual National Champions: 3
Women's Outdoor ECAC Championships (4): 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006; Conference Championships (5): 1990, 1991, 1994, 2005, 2006


Pitt volleyball won more Big East Conference Volleyball Tournament Championships than any other team

The Pitt volleyball program was established in 1974, and since that time the Panthers have had 33 winning seasons, one of the nation's top all-time winning percentages,[31] appearances in 14 national championship tournaments, and won the most Big East tournament championships while a member of that conference.[32] Pitt volleyball host home matches at the Fitzgerald Field House and is coached by Dan Fisher.

AIAW / NCAA Sweet Sixteen (3): 1978, 1981, 1990
AIAW / NCAA tournament appearances (14): 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2003, 2004
NIVC tournament appearances (2): 1989, 1995
Conference Championships: Tournament (11): 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2003; Regular Season (6): 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2003

Pat Santoro was a four-time All-American and two-time national champion at 142 pounds for Pitt wrestling


The wrestling program has a rich history having finishing second at the NCAA Championships twice and in the top ten 13 times, being 13th in the number of all-time individual national champions with 16, and boasting 75 All-American wrestlers throughout its history.[33] Pitt competes in the ACC but formerly was a member of the Eastern Wrestling League and before that, the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. Pitt wrestling hosts home meets at Fitzgerald Field House and is coached by Jason Peters.

NCAA Runner-up (2): 1954, 1957; Top Ten finishes (13): 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1970
NCAA championship appearances, team scored (61): 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Individual National Champions: 16
Conference Champions: Tournament (6): 1954, 1955, 1956, 1960, 2011, 2012, 2013; Regular Season (4): 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014

Previous varsity sports and conference affiliations

University-sponsored varsity sports that no longer exist at Pitt included men's teams in boxing, fencing, golf, ice hockey, gymnastics, rifle, tennis, volleyball (1979-1983), and water polo; as well as women's field hockey.

NCAA championship event participation for these programs is as follows.

Men's golf NCAA championship appearances (1): 1958
Men's gymnastics NCAA championship appearances (8): 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963
Men's gymnastics Individual National Champions: 2
Men's water polo NCAA championship appearances (1): 1976

Pitt's athletic teams have competed as independents or in various conferences throughout their history. Football competed as an independent until the formation of the Big East Football Conference in 1991 in which it remained a member through the 2012 season. Pitt's men's ice hockey team competed in the Intercollegiate League beginning with the 1909-1910 season.[34] Pitt men's basketball competed in the Eastern Intercollegiate Conference from 1932-33 to 1938-39 and in the Eastern 8 conference from 1976-77 to 1981-82 before joining the Big East in at the beginning of the 1982-83 season and in which it competed through the 2012-13 season. Women's basketball also joined the Big East in 1982-83, having competed previously as an independent. Baseball joined the Big East when the conference began sponsoring the sport in the spring of 1985. Men's soccer entered the Big East in fall of 1985. The women's soccer program began play in 1996 as an independent and entered the Big East in 1997. Softball began play in 1998 as an independent and entered the Big East in 1999. All of Pitt's Big East sports transitioned to the ACC beginning in the 2013-14 season. Pitt's men's gymnastic team competed in the Intercollegiate Gymnastic League. Pitt wrestling competed in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association until it entered the Eastern Wrestling League in 1976 where it competed before moving into the ACC in 2013-14. The men's swimming and diving team previously competed in the Eastern Collegiate Swimming Association.

Spirit groups

Pitt Band

Pitt Cheerleaders

The history rich University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band was founded in 1911 and performs at sports and other events, including at every home football game and select away football games. Its constituent group, the Pitt Pep Band, performs at all home basketball games and at post-season away games. The Pitt Band's drumline, known as The Crew, also performs at football games and occasionally at select basketball games. The Band also oversees the Golden Girls majorette group. The Pitt Band is directed by Jack R. Anderson.

Pitt Cheerleaders and Dance Team

The Pitt Cheerleaders have won multiple cheerleading national championships, including three straight from 1992–1994.[35][36] At the 2007 NCA/NDA Collegiate Cheerleading and Dance National Championships, Pitt's Cheer squad won the 2007 Challenge Cup and finished in eighth place overall in the All-Girl Division I category.[37] The Pitt Dance Team has also been competitive in national competitions, earning a top-20 finish at the NCA/NDA competition in the Division IA category in 2007, and advancing to finals in 2010 to finish 13th.[38] The Cheerleading team also oversees the costumed Panther mascot named Roc, who finished 6th in the NCA/NDA College Nationals Mascot Competition in 2011.[39] The Cheerleading and Dance Team is coached by Theresa Nuzzo.

NCA and UCA All-Girl Division I Cheerleading National Championships (3): 1992, 1993, 1994


Pitt athletic teams utilize the follow facilities and venues:

Panther Club

The university Athletic Department has an official booster club, the Panther Club, which is directly active in raising money for the athletic department from alumni, boosters, and fans. It also oversees the Varsity Letter Club, a booster club specifically for former Pitt student athletes. The Panther Club was previously known as Team Pittsburgh, and prior to 1997, was known as the Golden Panthers. Although independent of the Athletic Department, the Pitt Alumni Association often coordinates with the Athletic Department and Panther Club in hosting events corresponding with both home and away athletic events.

Club sports

Numerous Pitt athletic teams compete intercollegiately at the student club level without official sanction or sponsorship from the university's Department of Athletics. Although some are registered as official student organizations with the University of Pittsburgh Student Government Board and thus receive some small funding from that body, they are all largely self-supported.[41]

The following teams compete in intercollegiate non-varsity club sports:


Founded in 1981 and then reestablished in 1990 as a member of the Allegheny Rugby Union, the University of Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club played college rugby in Division 2 thru 2012, winning the Midwest Territory and advancing to the National Final 8 in 2003-04. They were promoted to Division 1-AA in 2013 and joined the newly formed Keystone Conference. In their inaugural season, the Panthers won both the regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the National Sweet 16. The Panthers play their home games at Turner Valley Fields in Norwin PA,[77] Pitt has contributed to the growing popularity of rugby in Western Pennsylvania.[78]


Founded in 1998, the University of Pittsburgh Ultimate Club plays in USA Ultimate's D-I College Championship Series, the highest level of collegiate competition in the sport. The 2005 season marked the first time the team qualified for the National Championship tournament. Since 2005, Pitt has qualified for the National Championship tournament (top 20 teams) for 11 consecutive seasons which was highlighted in winning back-to-back National Championships in 2012 and 2013. In addition to winning the 2012 and 2013 National Titles, the team has won 11 consecutive Western Pennsylvania Conference titles (2005-2015), 5 consecutive Ohio Valley Regional Titles (2011-2015), and 3 College Easterns Championships (2006, 2012, and 2015).

Women's lacrosse

The Pitt women's lacrosse club team that plays in Division 1 of Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) as a member of the East division of the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL).[79] The club was founded in 1992 and plays home games in the Cost Sports Center.[80] Since its founding, Pitt has won the WCLL four times (2006, 2013, 2014, and 2015) and has advanced to the WCLA national championship tournament nine times (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015),[80] which was highlighted by winning the WCLA Division 1 National Championship in 2014.[81]


Pitt's sports teams have several historic rivalries including:

Penn State rivalry

For most of Pitt's athletic history until 2000, the university's most-played and fiercest football rival was Penn State University. The series began in 1905 and ended on September 16, 2000 with a 12-0 Pitt Heinz Field victory, but with Penn State leading the series 50–42–4. Although the two teams ended play for years due to long-standing coaching and administrative feuding, the rivalry remained heated among some fans. A revival of the rivalry is scheduled to resume for a four-game series in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.[82] Pitt athletic officials have publicly supported an annual renewal of the rivalry; however, Penn State has publicly countered that it is financially restricted from agreeing to a long-term series on a home-and-home basis. In addition, the two schools have stopped playing each other in men's and women's basketball, although they still compete in other sports as well as in recruiting.

West Virginia rivalry

The 1908 edition of the Backyard Brawl at Exposition Park

Pitt's biggest rivalry in recent years has been with West Virginia University, which began with football games that date back to 1895, and spills across multiple sports. The annual contests are called the Backyard Brawl due to the proximity of the two schools' main campuses that are 57 miles apart (as the crow flies),[83] as well as the shared boundary between western Pennsylvania and North-Central West Virginia and the fact that both school reside in the same Designated Market Area. The football rivalry represents the most played opponent for each school, and in recent seasons has been traditionally played on Thanksgiving weekend, with the result often having implications both on the conference and national level. A men's basketball rivalry with WVU shared an intensity similar to that of the football one, and was also shared between the women's basketball teams as well. The rivalry had been relatively unique in college athletics in recent years as the two most high profile sports, football and men's basketball, have resulted in games between teams have been all been nationally ranked in the same season. However, the football and basketball rivalries between the two schools are now on hiatus due to Pitt and West Virginia moving into the ACC and Big 12 conferences, respectively. No renewal of the series has yet been scheduled. Most other sponsored varsity and club sports fielded by both schools also shared a similar rivalry, and some continue despite the conference realignment for both schools.

Duquesne rivalry

The City Game trophy

Pitt and Duquesne University have had a long-standing rivalry in men's basketball that dates to 1932. Dubbed the City Game, the inter-city rivalry pits the only two Division 1 basketball schools located within Pittsburgh's city limits. With their campuses located only three miles apart, it was the most intense basketball rivalry for both schools through the 1970s. The series currently scheduled to be held every year at the Consol Energy Center and attracts significant local interest. Both schools' women's teams also play their annual version of the City Game. Prior to World War II, the schools were also rivals on the football field.

Notre Dame rivalry

Pitt has a longstanding rivalry with the University of Notre Dame. Pitt has played Notre Dame on a semi-regular basis since 1899, with never more than three years passing between contests since 1943. The two universities recently are in the midst of a contract to play eight games between 2008 and 2015. Notre Dame is tied for Pitt's third most played opponent in football while Pitt is Notre Dame's fifth most played opponent. In other sports, Pitt and Notre Dame both compete against each other regularly as members of the Big East Conference and those competitions continue when both schools moved into the ACC.

Syracuse rivalry

Pitt has a long-standing rivalry with eastern football foe Syracuse University, which also spills over onto the basketball court. Pitt and Syracuse have played in football without interruption since 1955, a streak that will continue when both schools move into the ACC and become designated cross-division rivals in that conference. Syracuse is tied as being Pitt's 3rd most played football opponent, while Pitt is Syracuse's second most played opponent. The basketball version of the rivalry dates to 1914 and has been played nearly 100 times.

Cincinnati rivalry

In 2005, Pitt began a football trophy rivalry with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, dubbed the "River City Rivalry." This annual Big East Conference game stems from both cities being situated along the Ohio River and features a trophy of a riverboat telegraph (a device for signaling the boat's engine room).[84] However, with Pitt scheduled to move into ACC in 2013, the series is on hiatus for the foreseeable future with Pitt leading the all-time series 8–4.

Other rivalries

Pitt also has a significant basketball rivalry with the University of Connecticut. The Pitt and UConn rivalry first sparked with a last second win by then number one ranked Connecticut at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House in 1998 that was followed by a crowd-displeasing emotional outburst by Connecticut's Khalid El-Amin. The rivalry took on new significance in the 2002 Big East Conference Tournament championship game that saw Pitt lose in double overtime. Pitt went on to avenge its loss the following season by defeating UConn in the 2003 Big East Championship game. Pitt and UConn also met for the championship in 2004 and have since played in many conference games of significance since. In the 2008-2009 season, Pitt earned its first win over the country's top-rated team by beating UConn on the road, and later at home while Connecticut was again ranked #1. However, the future of the rivalry is uncertain with Pitt's pending move to the ACC.

Beginning in the 1980s, Pitt had an intense basketball rivalry with cross-state school and fellow Big East Conference member Villanova that was touched off by recruiting battles over several high profile players. The future of this series is also in doubt when Pitt moves into the ACC.

In the first half of the 20th century, a rivalry against Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University), as well as a regional rivalry with Washington & Jefferson College ended following the deemphasis of the football and other athletic programs at those institutions post-World War II.

From 1935 to 1941 Pitt football had a notable series with Fordham University which was then coached by Jim Crowley and featured guard Vince Lombardi. The series received attention because, at the time, both schools were national football powers whose first three meetings resulted in scoreless ties (1935, 1936 & 1937).[85]


File:Pittsburgh Panthers Alternate Logo.svg
The "torch-cut" Panther has been used as a logo since 1997


The University of Pittsburgh officially adopted the Panthers of Pittsburgh as its nickname and mascot in 1909, shortly after changing its name from the Western University of Pennsylvania.

The University of Pittsburgh claims that it was the first college or university to choose the panther as a mascot, which it did on November 16, 1909. According to alumnus George Baird, the reasons given for choosing the Panther were:

  1. The panther was the most powerful animal that once roamed western Pennsylvania.
  2. Its standing as a noble animal.
  3. At the time, no other school used the panther as a symbol.
  4. Its colors are similar to Pittsburgh's colors of gold and blue.
  5. The "happy accident of alliteration."[86]

Over 20 representations of panthers can be found in and around the university's campus and athletic facilities. Students, alumni, and fans rub the nose of one Panther statue in particular, the Millennium Panther located outside the William Pitt Union, in order to bring good luck to the university's teams prior to athletic contests.[87] This tradition was featured in a national television advertisement for the 2012 Hyundai Tucson automobile.[88] In addition, a costumed mascot, named "Roc", performs with the Pitt Cheerleaders at various athletic and non-athletic university events.

Student sections

The student section for basketball, the "Oakland Zoo", has received national acclaim for the atmosphere it helps to create in the Petersen Events Center.[89][90][91] The student section for football is termed the Panther Pitt[92] and has been recognized as being among the best in college football.[93]


The Pitt Band and its constituent Pitt Pep Band are often heard to play Pitt's fight songs, "Hail to Pitt", The Panther, and the "Pitt Victory Song" are typically played during athletic contests, along with other music. The University of Pittsburgh Alma Mater is typically played prior to or following athletic contests. In addition, a recent popular tradition involves the crowd singing a "Let's Go Pitt!" version of "Sweet Caroline" between the 3rd and 4th quarter of football games.

The Varsity Walk

Varsity Walk

Varsity Walk is a walkway between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Memorial Chapel on which is carved the names of former Pitt athletes (each year since 1950) who have promoted the University through their athletic (Panther Award) or academic (Blue-Gold Award) achievements.[94]

Victory Lights

The upper section of the Cathedral of Learning is illuminated "gold" after every home football team victory, as well as important victories in other sports.[95]

Notable Panthers

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino played at Pitt from 1979 to 1982

Alumni, students, faculty, athletes and non-athletes alike, often refer to themselves as "Panthers". There have been many notable individuals who have been associated with the University of Pittsburgh throughout its history ranging from athletes like Mike Ditka and Larry Fitzgerald, to celebrities like Gene Kelly and Fred Rogers, writers like Michael Chabon, businessmen like Andrew Mellon, and scientists like Jonas Salk. For more examples, see the List of University of Pittsburgh people.


Pitt Panthers Television

Starting with the 2010–11 school year Comcast and Xfinity in Western Pennsylvania will receive an all-Pitt-Panthers network featuring all sports and commentary hosted by Pitt in second-tier cable packages. The channel, located on The Comcast Network Channel 188 or 210, will also feature rebroadcasts of games carried by CBS, ABC or ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU shot by its own production crew and with the Pitt Radio announcers on play-by-play. The University promises at least 500 hours a year of sports games and matches.[96]

Pittsburgh Panthers Radio Network

Victory Lights

The following radio stations are part of the Pittsburgh Panthers Radio Network.[97][98]

Internet & Satellite
CBS College Sports Panthers All-Access
Sirius Satellite Radio
Location Station Programming
Altoona WFBG 1290 AM Football, Men's Basketball
Ambridge WMBA 1460 AM Football, Men's Basketball
Beaver Falls WBVP 1230 AM Football, Men's Basketball
Bedford WBFD 1310 AM Football
Butler WISR 680 AM Men's Basketball
WBUT 1050 AM Football
Connellsville WLSW 103.9 FM Football, Men's Basketball
DuBois WCED 1420 AM Football, Men's Basketball
Elizabethtown WPDC 1600 AM Football, Men's Basketball
Erie WRIE 1260 AM Football, Men's Basketball, Dave Wannstedt Show, Jamie Dixon Show
Harrisburg WTKT 1460 AM Football, Men's Basketball, Jamie Dixon Show
Huntingdon WHUN 1150 AM Football, Men's Basketball, Dave Wannstedt Show
Johnstown WCRO 1230 AM Football, Men's Basketball, Dave Wannstedt Show, Jamie Dixon Show
WCCL 101.7 FM Football
Latrobe WQTW 1570 AM Football, Men's Basketball
Meyersdale WQZS 93.3 FM Football, Men's Basketball, Dave Wannstedt Show, Jamie Dixon Show
Pittsburgh KDKA 93.7 FM Football, Men's Basketball, Dave Wannstedt Show, Jamie Dixon Show
WJAS 1320 AM Women's Basketball, Agnus Berenato Show
Uniontown WMBS 590 AM Football, Men's Basketball, Dave Wannstedt Show, Jamie Dixon Show
York WOYK 1350 AM Football, Men's Basketball


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External links