Longtime UW-Stout Sports Information Director Pitt Retires

**Released courtesy of Jerry Poling, UW-Stout Marketing and Communications


— As a student and reporter for the student newspaper, then as a local reporter and director of sports news at UW-Stout, Layne Pitt has covered nearly 2,000 college sports competitions for each team over the past 45 last years.

It goes back a long way. In the late 1970s, he covered a football game that celebrated the first inductees into the Blue Devil Hall of Fame. Today, the Hall of Fame has about 200 members.

Over the years, Pitt created his own Blue Devil legacy, but it was never about numbers, titles, All-Americans, record performances, or incredible shots or plays. Over the past 28 years as SID, he has worked late hours, worked weekends, met media deadlines and stayed focused during games in double overtime to help celebrate the efforts of athletes, coaches and hard-working staff at UW-Stout.

With his smooth, unassuming voice and constant presence, as well as his lived Blue Devils history, he has become an institution around the athletics complex on South Campus. He will leave a void when he retires on Wednesday, October 12.

“Layne is highly respected across the country by everyone who has worked with him over the years, but especially by Blue Devil coaches and the student-athletes he has supported and represented through his great work,” said Duey Naatz, athletic director.

“Layne is a true professional in all aspects of his job. His knowledge and history of UW-Stout athletics and his ability to promote UW-Stout with the stories of our student-athletes is outstanding,” said Naatz.

Pitt’s replacement will be Casey Parrott, director of sports communications, who began work Sept. 16.
“On behalf of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, we greatly appreciate Layne’s 28 years as director of sports information at UW-Stout,” said Matt Stanek, assistant commissioner for media relations at Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic. Conference. “We can’t thank him enough for his endless hours of publicity for the Blue Devil athletic department. We will miss Layne and wish him the best in his retirement.”

After nearly three decades with UW-Stout Athletics, the numbers add up: three chancellors, three athletic directors, 53 head coaches and thousands of student athletes. He led a team that produced more than 25,000 stories, at least 9,000 athlete portraits and tens of thousands of action photos – as well as creating videos, maintaining school records and statistical archives. And much more.

“My student team has been outstanding. We started with a small team doing hard copy statistics. Now with the expansion of the website we have over 20 students on staff managing statistics, producing feeds in live, photography (still and video), office work and writers,” Pitt said.

He enjoyed getting to know his student staff and student-athletes, who visit the SID office to chat or hang out after games. For the past few years, he’s kept a jar of Starburst candies on his desk as an informal invitation to stop by. “It’s a really good gathering place,” he said.

UW-Stout has 19 teams, a number that has increased by several since taking over as SID in 1994. Dunn County area,” Pitt said.

Game-changing technology

When he started as SID in 1994, he had no email. Staff reported the Blue Devil athletics news to the media via faxes and phone calls. Game statistics were kept with paper, pencil and typewriter because early desktop computers were not portable.

However, the change did not take long. Less than a year later, he began creating the first athletics website with the help of university editor Don Steffen, starting with schedules and team rosters.

“The school had a kind of web presence at the time, so I jumped on that bandwagon. We knew it was the future. It continued to flourish, and before you knew it, we had a full-fledged site,” Pitt said. . “The web was probably our biggest change. We’re actually our own media with the website. Pretty much everything you need is on these pages.”

Pitt, who has a degree in photography, has taken pictures of Blue Devil athletics throughout his career. He stopped using film around 2001. “The immediate impact of having a digital image ready to go before the end of the game is incredible,” he said.

“If someone told me that I could only do one of the tasks of my job, it would be photography. I love shooting games, reporting and in the studio,” he said, noting that he went from only athletics photographer to hiring. student photographers for 15 years. “It’s great to see them grow as photographers.”

Over the past 15 years, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have brought new challenges to work, but also new, more immediate ways to reach media and Blue Devil fans, he said. .

Witness to the story of the blue devil

He’s seen a lot of Blue Devil history. The period from 2000 to 2009 stands out, however. The football team was 10-0 in the regular season in 2000, after going 2-8 the previous year. The women’s basketball team won four conference titles and competed in the national tournament under coach Mark Thomas. The hockey, softball and golf teams also shone.

“We held NCAA conferences and tournaments like never before. It was a whirlwind of activity, going from one event to another. The gymnasiums and arenas were packed,” he said.

“I’ve always loved history, and Stout has an incredible history, both as a whole and with sports programs.”

He appreciated the athletic directors he worked with – Steve Terry, Joe Harlan and Naatz – and the coaches, staff and athletes he worked with, including current assistant athletic director Erin Sullivan.

He also enjoyed watching the athletes succeed, both on and off the field, and getting to know them during their years at UW-Stout.

Memorable accomplishments include Terry Anders winning six national sprint titles; Brad O’Connell’s outstanding baseball career; Jeff Hazuga and Tony Beckham move to NFL; Laura Verdegan playing a basketball game on a Wednesday night and winning the WIAC indoor triple jump title the following weekend; Kelsey Duoss and Julia Hirssig Win All-America Women’s Basketball Honors; and Amy Jamieson earned first-team all-conference honors in tennis, basketball, and softball in the same school year.

Pitt has seen football pass records set by Tim Peterson and then eclipsed by Matt Bunyan. Current Blue Devil quarterback Sean Borgerding will likely break many of Bunyan’s records.

“Layne has been brilliant in his sports coverage both in season and off season,” said Borgerding, a Spring Valley senior. “He always works hard to tell stories after games about different things that happen in the off-season.”

Borgerding said Pitt’s support for athletes goes far beyond game coverage, such as nominating athletes for conference and national awards and honors and then highlighting their special accomplishments.

Early career as a journalist
Prior to being hired as an SID, Pitt was a sportswriter, editor and photojournalist for the local Dunn County News for 11 years. He then worked for UW-Stout Photographic Services for two years.

His work at UW-Stout has included serving as chair of the Blue Devil Hall of Fame committee, member of the Chancellor’s Athletic Advisory Committee, and working with the student chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

In 2019, he received the Chancellor’s Academic Staff Award for Excellence at UW-Stout.

Pitt was honored as Midwest Division III Sports Information Director of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and from 2005 to 2008 he was SID for the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association while serving simultaneously from SID of UW-Stout.

A Bonduel native, he has lived in Menomonie since arriving as a college student in 1978. He transferred to UW-Stout after earning an associate degree in photography at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He was on the staff of the student newspaper Stoutonia and graduated from UW-Stout in 1981 with a degree in industrial education. His original plan was to be a high school teacher.

Pitt and his wife, Laura, also a UW-Stout alumna who works at the university’s Center for Child and Family Studies, have four adult children and three grandchildren.

“Laura has always been my support,” Pitt said. “I definitely couldn’t have done this without her.”