Pitt fires athletic director Steve Pederson after coach Paul Chryst bolts for Wisconsin

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Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers athletic director Steve Pederson during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Pittsburgh Panthers defeated Bowling Green Falcons 30-27. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)
Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers athletic director Steve Pederson during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Pittsburgh Panthers defeated Bowling Green Falcons 30-27. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

On the same day coach Paul Chryst left Pittsburgh to take the head coaching job at Wisconsin, athletic director Steve Pederson learned that he would not be around to hire the next coach.

Pitt and Pederson parted ways in what chancellor Patrick Gallagher called a mutual decision on Wednesday.

"With major decisions to be made about the future of football, I thought it was in the best interest of the University of Pittsburgh for Chancellor Gallagher to assemble his own team," Pederson said in a statement. "I am a Pitt and City of Pittsburgh fan, and want what is best for everyone moving into the future."

While Pederson helped guide Pitt through conference realignment and secure a spot in the ACC, his struggles with finding a consistent football coach ultimately cost him his job.

In 2010, Pederson forced out Dave Wannstedt following an 8-5 season and hired Mike Haywood, who had turned Miami-Ohio into Mid-American Conference power. However, Haywood lasted just 16 days before he was fired following a domestic dispute at his home on New Year’s Eve.

Pederson then turned to Todd Graham to help lead the program, but Graham, who came over from Tulsa, managed just a 6-6 season before bolting to Arizona State in 2011.

Chryst, who was hired in 2011, was with the program for three seasons, but was 19-19 and was ultimately swayed to come back to his hometown of Madison, Wisc., by athletic director Barry Alvarez.

Randy Juhl, vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance, will serve as Pitt's acting athletic director and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph will serve as interim coach for the Panthers in the Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2 against Houston.

For more Pittsburgh news, visit Panther-lair.com.

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