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Pittsburgh Statement On The Departure Of Todd Graham

Pittsburgh has released a statement on its athletic department website concerning Todd Graham's stunning departure for the head coaching job at Arizona State. The statement in full reads:

PITTSBURGH--University of Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson announced that head football coach Todd Graham has resigned his post to take another coaching job.

Mr. Graham first advised Mr. Pederson of his intentions via telephone Tuesday evening. During that conversation, Graham requested permission to speak to another institution. That permission was denied and he was asked to sit down in person to discuss everyone's best interest in this situation. There had been no earlier indication of a desire to leave his position at Pitt. In fact, he expressly stated that his coaching experiences at the University of Pittsburgh had been entirely positive and that his decision was based solely on personal family reasons.

"Obviously this is not the way we would have expected Mr. Graham to handle any possible departure," Pitt executive vice chancellor and general counsel Jerry Cochran said. "Beyond normal expectations with respect to professional conduct, he has failed to comply with the terms of his contract."

"First and foremost, I want to express the complete support of the University of Pittsburgh for the young men in our football program," Pederson said. "Their commitment over this past year has been unwavering and they deserve better than this as they look forward to completing their season with a bowl. As always, we will base our every decision and action on their best interests as we move forward.

"We also understand the disappointment that will be felt by our many fans and supporters. Their emotional investment and pride have been important to our program, and we are committed to securing the leadership our football team deserves.

"The head football coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh is an outstanding opportunity. As rich as our history has been, I sincerely believe the future can be even greater. Everything is in place for a championship football program on and off the field at Pitt, including a world-class academic institution, state-of-the-art facilities and a tremendous city to call home.

"The search for a new coach has already begun and I am confident we will have great interest in the job from some outstanding candidates."

Pederson named Keith Patterson, who has served as Pitt's defensive coordinator this season, as interim head coach for the Panthers' Jan. 7 appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.