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Saturday, January 23, 2010

PITT FOOTBALL COACH DAVE WANNSTEDT TO SPEAK AT PITT-BRADFORD COMMENCEMENT

Dave Wannstedt to Speak At Commencement


BRADFORD, Pa. – Dave Wannstedt, former National Football League coach and head football coach for the University of Pittsburgh, will speak to the graduating class of 2010 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Wannstedt, who has led the Panthers to back-to-back bowl games, will deliver the keynote address during commencement exercises at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 2, in the KOA Arena of the Sport and Fitness Center at Pitt-Bradford.

“I am excited about Coach Wannstedt being our graduation speaker,” said Kayla Bourgeouis, a sports medicine major from Meadville who sat on the committee to choose a commencement speaker. “Coach Wannstedt demonstrates great leadership and is well-respected by the community.”

Student Government Association president Tim Woughter, a criminal justice major from Gillett, said, “The students who sat on the committee felt that he would be a great motivational speaker for graduating seniors. Also, we were looking for someone that has Pitt pride as well, and I think Coach Wannstedt has a great amount of it.”

A Western Pennsylvania native and graduate of Pitt-Oakland in 1974, Wannstedt is the hard-working son of a steelworker whose reputation for hard work and football smarts served him well from playing in the prestigious Pennsylvania-Ohio Big 33 Football Classic to the start of his coaching career.

As a left tackle at Pitt, Wannstedt was part of the 1973 team that earned a berth in the Fiesta Bowl and began a run for the Panthers that included a national championship and five bowl games in six years.

Wannstedt would take part in those highly successful winning seasons as a coach as well as a player. While earning his master’s degree at Pitt in 1976, Wannstedt began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under head coach John Majors in 1975 and 1976.

When Majors left following Pitt’s 1976 undefeated national title season, Wannstedt stayed on to coach receivers and special teams during the 1977 and 1978 seasons under Jackie Sherrill. While at Pitt, he met Jimmy Johnson, who made Wannstedt part of his coaching teams for Oklahoma State, the University of Miami, the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

During his career, Wannstedt also served as defensive line coach for the University of Southern California from 1983 to 1985. From 1993 to 1998, he was head coach of the Chicago Bears, finishing as the third-winningest coach in Bears’ history and selected 1994 National Football Conference Coach of the year by United Press International and Football News.

In all, he spent 16 years coaching in the NFL, 11 of those as head coach – six with the Bears and five with the Miami Dolphins.

After nearly three decades away from Pittsburgh, Wannstedt was named head football coach of his alma mater in December 2004.

In 2006, Wannstedt and his wife, Jan, gave a $250,000 gift to the university to endow a football scholarship.

At the time, Wannstedt said they made the gift because of the “life-changing opportunity” he was afforded to attend Pitt on a football scholarship.

“We want to be able to help provide those same opportunities for both current and future generations of student-athletes,” said Wannstedt, who has also said that his first goal as a coach is to see his players earn their degrees.

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