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Pitt’s Keith Gavin receives new contract through 2027

by Roger Milan Sepich, Pittsburgh Athetics

PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh wrestling head coach Keith Gavin signed a new contract that will ensure his leadership of the Panthers through at least the 2027 season, Director of Athletics Heather Lyke announced today.

“We are thrilled to announce this deserved new contract for Coach Gavin,” Lyke said. “Keith was the first head coach that I had the privilege to hire after arriving at Pitt in 2017, and it has been extraordinary to watch him and his coaching staff build this program and see it head in the right trajectory. Keith’s pride in his alma mater is contagious and his student-athletes love competing with him in their corner. With another talented recruiting class coming in and the new practice and competition venue for wrestling in Victory Heights in the near future, Pitt wrestling has exceptional expectations and a bright future under Coach Gavin.”

The highlight thus far of Gavin’s tenure at the helm of Pitt wrestling was an 11th-place finish at the 2021 NCAA Championships, which was the best team finish for the Panthers at nationals in more than five decades. That year, Pitt sent two individuals – Jake Wentzel and Nino Bonaccorsi – to the NCAA wrestling finals for the first time since 1963 and Gavin was named ACC Co-Coach of the Year.

In five seasons as head coach at his alma mater, Gavin has mentored 27 NCAA Championship qualifiers, 10 Atlantic Coast Conference champions and seven All-Americans. In addition to the postseason success, Gavin’s Panthers have been formidable dual opponents, with 38 team wins to his credit, including notable victories over top-10 opponents Arizona State, Virginia Tech and Lehigh in recent campaigns.

“I’m very grateful to be able to continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the last five years,” Gavin said. “I want to thank Heather Lyke and Jen Tuscano for their leadership and support of wrestling at the University of Pittsburgh. I loved being at Pitt as a student-athlete. I love being at Pitt as a coach. This is a special university in a city and region that loves our sport. I’m honored to have this opportunity and excited to continue helping our student-athletes reach their goals on and off the mat.”

The impact of Gavin’s leadership at Pitt reaches far beyond dual wins and ACC and NCAA postseason successes.

Pitt has produced seven NWCA Scholar All-Americans and 15 Academic All-ACC selections under Gavin, with numerous Panthers completing undergraduate degrees and pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh while competing for the wrestling program.

The pursuit of international success has also become a priority at Pitt since Gavin took over in 2017. Current Panthers Nino Bonaccorsi and Cole Matthews have been crowned United States U23 freestyle champions with Luca Augustine also earning a U20 freestyle national title. Bonaccorsi even represented his country at the U23 World Championships last year in Serbia. The Pittsburgh Wrestling Club has provided several athletes, including Pitt alum Demetrius Thomas, with the chance to continue wrestling professionally with the goal of competing for domestic and international honors in the sport.

All of these achievements under Gavin have raised the national profile of Pitt wrestling.

ESPN’s broadcast of the 2021 NCAA Championships in St. Louis spent significant time highlighting Pitt’s two finalists and Gavin, who won the program’s last individual national title in that city in 2008. Associate head coach Jordan Leen was recently named the new head coach at Brown, confirming that programs from major conferences have noticed the quality of coaching from the Pitt wrestling room. And numerous Pitt wrestlers have been featured guests on ACC Network programming and Pittsburgh sports radio channel 93.7 The Fan while also exploring new Name, Image and Likeness opportunities with camps and local businesses as the stature of Pitt wrestling continues to grow.

Perhaps most exciting for supporters of Pitt and the sport of wrestling in western Pennsylvania, Gavin’s 2022 recruiting class has been heralded as among the best in recent program history.

Talented transfers Dazjon Casto and Holden Heller join the program as NCAA Championship veterans, while freshmen Mac Stout, Dayton Pitzer, Jared Keslar, Briar Priest, Jack Pletcher, Vincent Santaniello and Codie Cuerbo bring prep pedigrees to Pitt that ensure the team’s future is indeed incredibly bright.