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Pitt fires women’s basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio

Jerry DiPaola
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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt coach Suzie McConnell-Serio makes calls against Wagner on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Petersen Events Center.

Suzie McConnell-Serio, who spent her entire adult life and much of her childhood playing and coaching basketball at the highest levels, was fired Thursday after five years as Pitt’s women’s basketball coach.

Pitt has fired both of its basketball coaches in the past month. Athletic director Heather Lyke dismissed men’s coach Kevin Stallings on March 8 and replaced him three weeks later with former Duke assistant Jeff Capel.

McConnell-Serio, who grew up in Brookline, inherited a program that was 8-22 and 9-21 in the final two years under former coach Agnus Berenato. That included back-to-back 0-16 seasons in the Big East.

Two years later, McConnell-Serio led Pitt to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years and advanced to the second round. After that season, she was rewarded with a contract extension that runs through the 2020-2021 season.

But the program fell on hard times in subsequent years, with three consecutive losing seasons, concluding with a 10-20 overall record (2-14 in the ACC) this season. Pitt lost 11 of its last 12 games. The team’s final victory was Feb. 1 at Clemson, and the Panthers finished on a seven-game losing streak at Petersen Events Center.

McConnell-Serio leaves Pitt with an overall record of 67-87 (22-58 in the conference). The program’s biggest loss might have been leading scorer and rebounder Brenna Wise, who transferred to Indiana after the 2016-17 season.

Hired by former athletic director Steve Pederson in 2014, McConnell-Serio served on Pitt’s search committee that helped find Pederson’s successor, Scott Barnes, a year later.

McConnell-Serio’s career included winning a PIAA title as a player at Seton La Salle in 1984, becoming an All-American at Penn State and bringing home two Olympic medals — gold in 1988 in Seoul and bronze in 1992 in Barcelona — with the U.S. women’s basketball team.

McConnell-Serio enjoyed her greatest success as a coach when she led Oakland Catholic to five PIAA championship games, winning three in 1993, 2001 and ’03. She also played and coached in the WNBA before being named head coach at Duquesne, where she compiled a six-year record of 123-68 (51-33 in Atlantic 10).

“We thank coach McConnell-Serio for her contributions to Pitt and wish her the very best in her future endeavors,” Lyke said in a statement.

“In finding the next leader of our women’s basketball program, I believe this is an opportunity that will attract interest from across the country. We are wholeheartedly committed to building Pitt women’s basketball into a contender both in the ACC and nationally.”

McConnell-Serio responded to a text message from the Tribune-Review, but declined comment.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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