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Ten and 20 years ago in wrestling – Where are the programs?

I’ve written countless position papers, articles and columns debating Title IX. I’ve researched stats, comparative numbers and tried to back up the claims that many Olympic sports have been shown the door.

I realize more than just Title IX goes into athletic cuts, especially now that our economy is such an easy thing to blame. ESPN wrote stories about the economy and cuts and pointing to where Title IX enters the fray.

Troy Dannen, who is in his first year as the A.D. at Northern Iowa, noted when the school cut baseball, it was way out of compliance and said a women’s sport couldn’t even be considered getting cut.

Donna Lopiano, the dean of gender quotas, even noted schools were afraid to cut women’s teams because they fear they would get sued.

Gotta love it. (TIC)

But let’s look at our sport of wrestling, which according to the National Federation of High School State Associations, has the highest number of participants at the high school level since 1980-81. Here are a few telling things about what simple stats I’m about to break down.

It’s more tragic than it is thought provoking, but regardless, I fail to see how groups like the Women’s Sports Foundation can call wrestling “a dying sport” on more than one occasion. Wrestling is one of five NCAA championships that make the organization money on the Division I level (it was four, but men’s lacrosse has shown numbers in the black according to numbers found on the NCAA site).

Attendance at the Division I championships is amazing, while the competition at the Division II and Division III championships is also quite intense and deserving of our support and coverage. I can’t speak about the NAIA, since I’ve never attended their championships.

Ten years ago, I was set to enter my third year of college. Twenty years ago, I was set to turn 10 and was entering the fourth grade. Where was wrestling then? Actually, where were our wrestling programs?

I spent some time on Jay Hammond’s site looking through brackets from both 1999 and 1989.

Here’s some interesting figures to look back on.

First, let’s go to 1999.
Stephen Abas won the first of this three NCAA Championships for now-defunct Fresno State.
Cael Sanderson won the first of his four NCAA Championships.
Casey Cunningham won the first NCAA title by a Central Michigan wrestler.
Stephen Neal, now of the New England Patriots, beat Brock Lensar, now of the UFC, for the NCAA Division I heavyweight championship.
Ultimate Fighter Alum Matt Hamill, a deaf wrestler, won a Division III championship for RIT.
Wrestlers from Montclair State and Lebanon Valley met in a Division III final.

Back in 1999, the following schools had All-Americans. These same schools no longer sanction wrestling.

Division I
Fresno State, BYU, Slippery Rock
Division II
Carson-Newman*, Southwest Missouri, Central Washington
Division III
Capital, Norwich*, Montclair State, Lebanon Valley, Concordia (Ill.).
*- denotes program was cut this past year, but fighting to stay alive.

11 schools where wrestlers earned All-American status from 1999 don’t have teams anymore.

In 1989, it’s much bigger.

Division I
Clemson, Notre Dame, New Mexico, Syracuse, Fresno State, Eastern Illinois, and Oregon.
Division II
Portland State, Lake Superior State, Grand Valley State, California (Pa.), Cal State-Chico, Winston-Salem State, Norfolk State, Humboldt State, Ferris State, North Dakota, Mansfield, Virginia State and Cheyney State.
Division III
Kean, Montclair State, St. Lawrence, St. Thomas, SUNY-Albany, Gallaudet (a deaf college) , Norwich and Millikin.

We see 29 schools with All-American wrestlers no longer on the mats.

I looked into Division II. Twenty-nine schools represented the 80 All-Americans that year. Of the schools who still have wrestling, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Buffalo, and UC Davis are Division I, Springfield is Division III. Of those 29 schools, 14 don’t have programs. That leaves 15 schools with All-Americans 20 years ago still in existance. Five of them are in other divisions, leaving just 10 schools still in Division II with All-American legacies dating back at least 20 years.

Let’s look at the racial makeup as well, since I’ve posted much about Delaware State’s abandonment of the African-American wrestling community by becoming the final HBCU to cut wrestling. In Division II in 1989, four HBCU’s had All-Americans — Norfolk State, Winston-Salem State, Virginia State and Cheyney.

How many wrestlers from those schools (all, not just the HBCU’s) have kids who wrestle? That’s 29 schools where legacies can’t be established and a sense of pride is lost.

There are a lot of things to blame, but factor in the economy and gender quotas and it makes it much more apparent the money from our tight-sphinctered sport needs to be flowing to save our programs, too.

By the way, I’m going to revive my “Dropped Program Project” in the coming weeks.


I turn 30 in August, so I figured I’d go ahead and look at what programs we had with All-Americans, but don’t now, in 1979, the year I was born.

Syracuse, LSU, Kentucky, Slippery Rock, BYU, Portland State, Toledo, Eastern Illinois, Grand Valley State, Miami (Ohio), Oregon, UCLA, California (Pa.), Oakland (Mich.), Morgan State, Northern Michigan, Southern Connecticut State, C.W. Post, Cal State-Sacramento, Lake Superior State, Central Connecticut State, Central Florida, Youngstown State, Southwest Missouri, Southeast Missouri, South Dakota, Salisbury, Humboldt State, Minnesota-Morris, St. Lawrence, Kalamazoo, Mansfield, Cal State-Sanislaus, Allegheny, Juniata, SUNY-Postdam.

Written by Jason Bryant

July 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm

E:60 Feature Power of One – ESPN Video

Wrestling is one of the many sports mentioned played by this young man. Great video and inspirational story. We should get this kid in touch with Arizona State’s Anthony Robles.

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more about “E:60 Feature Power of One – ESPN Video“, posted with vodpod

Written by Jason Bryant

November 13, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Good Stuff

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