Kolodziej spent seven years in the National Football League following a distinguished collegiate career at Wisconsin. He spent the last year as assistant strength and conditioning for the Panthers.
"Our goal is to reassert the Pitt program among the very best in college football," Kolodziej said. "I'm honored to be given this responsibility by Coach Chryst. We have a sense of urgency to build upon the momentum from our bowl victory. That starts in the weight room this winter.
"It is our responsibility to maximize our players' abilities and opportunities at Pitt. They may think they know what work is, but we're going to put them in the furnace this offseason. The great thing is our kids have told me they want to work and be pushed. It's that kind of desire that produces results on and off the field."
Kolodziej started 45 games for the Badgers at defensive tackle from 1997-2000. He helped Wisconsin claim back-to-back Big Ten titles (1998 and 1999) and compile a four-year record of 38-12 (.760). Wisconsin went 3-1 in bowl games during his career, including two Rose Bowl victories.
Kolodziej holds Wisconsin weight room records for a defensive player in the squat and clean. He also holds defensive lineman records in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and pro-agility drill.
"The 2014 season starts on Thursday when we begin our offseason training program and I'm excited that Ross will be leading this very important area," Chryst said. "This is a well-earned opportunity for him and I know he is going to make a significant impact. Our players are equally enthusiastic about getting back to work. We're looking forward to a highly productive offseason."
A two-sport athlete in college, Kolodziej was a shot putter at Wisconsin and a member of the Badgers' 2000 and 2001 indoor and outdoor track and field Big Ten championship teams.
A seventh-round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2001, Kolodziej played seven seasons in the NFL and two more in the United Football League (UFL). In addition to the Giants, he spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. His most productive NFL season came in 2005 when he started 14 games for Arizona's top-10 defensive unit.
He played with the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives in 2009 and 2010. A team captain, he helped the franchise to two league championships.
During the 2009 offseason, Kolodziej was a full-time strength and conditioning intern at Wisconsin. The following offseason, he worked with the Badgers as a defensive graduate assistant.