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BU officials recommend wrestling program be discontinued

By : John Hartrick

Binghamton University officials have recommended to President Lois B. DeFleur that intercollegiate wrestling be discontinued in spring 2004, at the end of the current season. After consulting with the University’s Intercollegiate Athletic Board, Joel Thirer, director of health, physical education and athletics, made the recommendation in an August 28 memo to DeFleur, who is expected to make a final decision within a few weeks.

The University will honor its commitments to coaches and athletes throughout the year.

Thirer said the recommendation, which was precipitated by campus budget reductions, including 5 percent for athletics and other non-instructional areas, was made based on a combination of factors – fiscal constraints, facilities and conference affiliation.

“It is very difficult to make this recommendation,” Thirer said. “But no division on campus has been immune to budget cuts. We believe this action will allow us to preserve the integrity of our entire intercollegiate athletics program.”

The campus would save $160,000 to $180,000 a year in operating costs, overhead and scholarships by discontinuing the program.

In making the recommendation, Thirer said he also considered scheduling issues, conference affiliation and facilities.

Wrestling is the only one of Binghamton’s 21 intercollegiate sports that is not sponsored by the America East Conference. Instead, BU’s wrestlers compete in the Virginia-based Colonial Athletic Association as an associate member.

Once the Events Center is completed, BU’s entire intercollegiate athletics program will be housed in the West Gym and the Events Center, with the East Gym reserved for campus recreation activities. The wrestling program, currently located in the East Gym, will be left without a suitable practice and competition facility as well as key support services.

Current team members will be able to transfer to other schools unconditionally, according to Thirer. “We will do everything we can to help our current wrestlers throughout this process,” he said.

Among the 324 NCAA Division I members, only 87 schools offer wrestling. Binghamton has sponsored varsity wrestling since 1969. Under sixth-year head coach Mike Fusilli, the 2002-03 wrestlers finished with a 7-15 overall record and placed eighth out of 11 teams at the CAA Championship.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08