PITTSBURGH — Kevin Stallings stressed that "the decision is not made by me" when asked whether he would return for an 18th season at Vanderbilt after a first-round NCAA Tournament flameout last week against Wichita State.
Turns out, it was.
Stallings abruptly left the Commodores for Pittsburgh on Sunday, trading a program that spent most of his tenure in the middle of the SEC for one trying to forge a new identity in the stacked ACC after Jamie Dixon bolted last week for TCU.
"Coach Stallings and I share the same vision for Pitt — playing in the Final Four," Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said in a statement. "Kevin has a successful track record recruiting the ACC footprint and beyond, and is one of the best coaches in the country at building an offense around his talent. He plays a fun uptempo style that players love and fans will enjoy."
Stallings, 55, is 455-283 with nine appearances in the NCAAs while at Illinois State and Vanderbilt. He went 332-220 with the Commodores and is the winningest coach in the program's history. His tenure included seven NCAA berths and trips to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and 2007.
Yet sustained success, particularly in March, has proven elusive. Vanderbilt started this season ranked 18th and moved as high as 16th but finished 19-14 after getting blown out by Wichita State in the opening round of the tournament, the fourth time in Vanderbilt's past five NCAA trips it failed to win a single game.
Stallings is expected to be introduced today, a week after Dixon left the Panthers for his alma mater.