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University to Discontinue Wrestling in 2014

Athletics cites multiple reasons for move

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The BU wrestling program will end after next season, wrapping up its 45-year history as a Division I sport, the athletics department announced Monday. The program was largely shaped by wrestling legend Carl Adams, who has coached the team for more than three decades.

“As we looked to the future, many questions arose about our ability to be successful in a changing collegiate sports landscape,” says Michael Lynch, assistant vice president and director of athletics. “It’s a very sad day for all of us in Terrier sports, but it’s something that we feel we needed to do to move the department forward in the best possible manner.”

Adams says he was shocked and devastated by the news, but felt worse for his wrestlers, because “they got lopped off for a reason that I’m still trying to figure out.…I have great respect for the administration, but I’m at a loss.”

The decision, Lynch says, came after a lengthy review process that assessed the University’s overall budgetary constraints, the shifting sands of conference affiliation occurring nationwide, the fact that wrestling does not have a formal affiliation in the Patriot League—the conference the University is moving to next year—and the team’s performance over the past two decades. This year the Terriers finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association championship, sent three wrestlers to the NCAA championships, and completed the season 9-9 overall, with an in-conference record of 2-4.

“We have not been able to compete at the level we would want to,” Lynch says. “We want to say in all sports that we can win a conference championship, but we haven’t in the last 15 years.”

Todd Klipp, a senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the BU Board of Trustees, says improving the team’s performance would require costly measures like hiring more staff and major facility enhancements.

At least half of the 25 Terriers on the roster get some type of financial aid, Lynch says. The team’s 2 seniors and 11 juniors will be able to finish their wrestling careers here. Sophomores and freshmen will retain their scholarships through graduation if they choose to stay. Lynch says the University will help those students who want to continue wrestling transfer to another institution, where they will be eligible immediately under NCAA guidelines.

“Although this is a difficult situation, we are trying to make it as easy, convenient, and painless as possible for the student-athletes,” Klipp says.

Boston University BU, end wrestling program, Carl Adams, 45 year wrestling history, BU athletics department, terriers

Wrestling cocaptain Nestor Taffur (MET’14) (top) was shocked by the announcement that wrestling was being discontinued and wants to “help unite everyone” on the team.

Adams told his wrestlers that he “would support them in whatever they felt they needed to do.” He knows team members will be recruited heavily by other schools, and he faces an uphill battle recruiting freshmen to fill out next year’s roster. “We’ve got another season,” he says, “but we’re asking these athletes to go out and get the job done and be at a terrible deficit as far as their ability to win as a team.”

Cocaptain Nestor Taffur (MET’14), who took first place in the conference’s 157-pound weight class, says he’s shocked by the news and is reviewing his options. “Right now,” he says, “I want to help support the cause on campus, be a leader on the team, and help unite everyone.”

The team’s other cocaptain, Kevin Innis (SAR’14), still hopes the program can be saved. He says wrestlers are “a resilient group of guys” who see this as “just another challenge for us. We’re staying positive.” Innis came in first this year in the conference heavyweight competition.

“I can’t see myself leaving this group,” he says. “My best friends are on the team. I can’t see breaking that up. I live with these guys. They’re my family now.”

BU isn’t the only school that’s nixed its wrestling program over the years. Forbes has reported that there were 146 Division I wrestling teams in the 1981-1982 season, with 3,659 student-athletes participating. By the 2011-2012 season, those numbers had dropped to 77 teams, with 2,438 student-athletes.

“It’s fair to say that at the collegiate level participation in wrestling has declined significantly over the years,” Klipp says.

Innis, who started wrestling when he was four, says it breaks his heart that wrestling is dying out as a Division I sport. “It’s not just a sport. For a lot of guys, it’s their lives,” he says. “I’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been in school.”

The end of wrestling also means the departure of Adams, long a wrestling legend and the backbone of the BU program for the past 32 seasons. As an undergraduate at Iowa State University, he was a two-time NCAA champion at 158 pounds and a three-time All-American. After graduating in 1972, he competed in the World Cup Championships and the Pan American Games, was named the National Mat News Middle Weight of the Decade in 1975, and was inducted into four wrestling Halls of Fame, Massachusetts, Iowa State, Glen Brand of Iowa, and Midlands.

Boston University BU, end wrestling program, Carl Adams, 45 year wrestling history, BU athletics department, terriers

Cocaptain Kevin Innis (SAR’14) (right) says it breaks his heart that wrestling is dying out as a Division I sport.

“Wrestling is one of the best teachers of how to succeed in the game of life,” Adams says.

At BU, Adams racked up more than 300 of the 429 victories the team has earned since becoming a Division I sport in 1969, making him fourth among active coaches in career wins at that level. He led the Terriers to 10 conference championships and more than 100 NCAA appearances and was named conference Coach of the Year four times.

“It is no exaggeration to say that Carl Adams is wrestling at Boston University,” Klipp says. “He’s really done a fabulous job and put his heart and soul into the program here.”

“He is a true team player and somebody who had done about as much as is humanly possible with the limited resources that he has,” Lynch says. “I’m more disappointed for him than I am for anyone, and I know this is a sad day for him. Coach Adams is an important part of our athletic family, and we hope that our ties will continue well into the future.”

Reviewing his career highlights, Adams says he most enjoyed seeing his unranked BU wrestlers trounce defending champions at national tournaments and defeating his alma mater last year at a home match. But his biggest joy is working with his “kids.”

As to his future, Adams says he’s not worried: “I know that my wrestling skills have taught me to be a survivor.”

23 Comments
Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

23 Comments on University to Discontinue Wrestling in 2014

  • Paul on 04.05.2013 at 7:33 am

    This is a travesty, but on a side note I am really disheartened to hear we still have student athletes who are taking all their classes at the MET. This wa supposed to be the big lesson learned from the hockey fiasco. If they are going torep the university they need to be academically qualified and get into the day program. BU needs to stop gaming the admissions game which does nt count kids who apply and get into the MET

  • Parent of what I had hoped would be a future BU Wrestler on 04.05.2013 at 11:59 am

    I and my son were both so saddened to hear about this. My daughter attends BU and we were hoping that my son who is a wrestler would also attend in 2 years and wrestle as a Terrier. I do hope the University rethinks this decision!

    • Carl on 03.21.2014 at 1:31 am

      I think there is a general desire by the administration to move toward more “sophisticated” athletic forms. Wrestling gives BU national exposure at tournament time. Who but the ultra-snobby pay any attention to the rowing crews? Yet that sport will never die.

  • Susie on 04.05.2013 at 12:19 pm

    The article doesn’t even mention that wrestling has been dropped as an Olympic sport…. to make way for golf and beach volleyball, I guess!

    • Justin Nezich on 01.13.2014 at 5:04 pm

      Wrestling was dropped and quickly reinstated for the 2020 olympics. All olympic sports are reviewed every 4 years to potentially give a new sport a try at the olympics. The olympic committe said upon reinstating wrestling, “we knew we had made a mistake removing wrestling from the olympics, we had to quickly correct our mistake and reinstate wrestling”. Wrestling went to a vote with baseball, softball and squash and wrestling more than doubled their votes of any other sport to be reinstated in the olympics

  • Tony on 04.05.2013 at 3:07 pm

    I smell a championship season next year!!! I feel bad for anyone who has to get on the mat with these terriers next year. sorry for the phrase (Go HAM) from now on you guys, from the mat to the classrooms, be active in everything, join organizations,volunteer show it all, really just BU

  • jeff on 04.05.2013 at 3:44 pm

    “It’s fair to say that at the collegiate level participation in wrestling has declined significantly over the years,” Klipp says

    That comment is an ignorant comment. Those teams have been dropped due to Title IX reasons. Not because there is a lack of interest to wrestle. To take it out of context is an ignorant thing to do.

  • KO on 04.05.2013 at 11:34 pm

    We all know that lacrosse is being added next year so of course the ever oppressive title IX demands sacrifice in the form of a different men’s sport. Amazing how title IX helped women when they were in the minority but now hurts men who are the minority in colleges across the country.

  • Mollie on 04.06.2013 at 10:25 am

    Very sad day for wrestling and to disrespect an incredible coach that has done a complete service to BU athletics is Very sad. wrestling is the best male athletics team on campus, great bunch of guys.
    In response to Paul, as a BU athlete in MET, your comments are unwarranted. For athletes that want to take other programs not offered in the day program such as Criminal Justice, we shouldn’t be punished based on the mens hockey teams actions. We get treated the same as regular students when it comes to school and academics so we should get the same opportunities. And just so you know, athletes in the MET program take 2 days classes along with 2 night classes so to not miss too many games and other practices and events on week nights.

  • BU Wrestling Parent on 04.06.2013 at 8:43 pm

    “We have not been able to compete at the level we would want to,” Lynch says. “We want to say in all sports that we can win a conference championship, but we haven’t in the last 15 years.”

    As a parent of a wrestler, I am very shocked, saddened, and perplexed. BU Wrestlers have a 100% graduation rate, play fair and clean on the mat and everywhere else in their lives (unlike some athletes in other BU sports), and help teammates, other athletes, classmates, and the community. Coach Adams is a role model for perseverance, honesty, teamwork, and leadership. All due respect, Mr. Lynch but you need to consider what a “champion” is made of and what athletics really teaches about life…not bringing home a trophy while failing in other areas of life.

    The claim is the decision isn’t about Title IX or about money, and funds from a “white knight” wouldn’t reverse the decision. So, my question for you, Mr. Lynch is what then, is this about? I hope BU Athletics is being run with the same honesty and transparency that Carl Adams rightfully demands from his “kids”. Present and former BU wrestlers, Coach Adams, fellow BU athletes, and we parents demand and deserve a straight answer.

    • Wallywayoff on 08.27.2013 at 9:00 pm

      They don’t care. It is the new culture. It was started by Silber and it is alive and well. Silber would be the first one to speak out about the holocaust, but this is nothing less than that. The “blind eye” . Look at the football program. What is next?

  • Cino on 04.07.2013 at 1:01 pm

    Paul get your head out of your backside; the MET curriculum basically models that of CAS and probably more practical for the working environment. There are a number of students from MET that are well positioned in life and representing BU very well. Perhaps you ought to review the alumni list. The real issue is how Title IX is the demise of male sports; and how weak of an AD BU has. Title IX is most difficult particularly for those schools that do not compete well in the more costly programs like football. So most “leaders” will fold up instead of finding success. Hence, BU athletics! Ask yourself which program has AD Lynch had a positive influence in which the program success was directly related? Hockey? We all know that nobody but Parker runs that program. LaCrosse or Field Hockey? Give me a few million, improve the facility & I could make that work. The AD is just another puppet for the liberal administration and do-gooders at BU. Again they pull a class act and drop a bomb on program and a loyal coach that have a good reputation; and well respected within their sport. What do you expect from a school that dissolved a very well respected football program with a rich tradition? That sport also had some very loyal alumni donors. Maybe BU can erect another statue that has no meaning to the sport and its significance to BU. Like they did with Harry Agganis. All know his talents were most known for FOOTBALL and baseball. Two sports BU found reasons to dissolve; and then they dress up Mr Agganis in his football uniform and place him in front of a Hockey arena! Do you think that would rollover any alums in their graves? BU can keep chasing their “Oxford” dream (academic standard they indicated at one time when dissolving football). Interestingly, the Ivy league still out performs BU academically while still having football, baseball, wrestling and yes all of the other sports including those for women. Oh by the way, so do the Patriot League schools. See if Colgate will rid themselves of football? Get an AD that has a Division 1 background in playing and coaching who has a quality education and work experience; and who is not there to be a puppet protecting his salary. Homecoming must be great fun with all the 200 fans watching field hockey! By the way I like field hockey but it isn’t football and there is a reason why football has a larger fan base and revenue stream. The difference is you have Administrators that understand how to harness that success and have learned to lead and fight; not quit and drop bombshells. It is easier to quit than to succeed. Those that quit will never succeed.

    • Wallywayoff on 08.27.2013 at 9:05 pm

      I think I know who this is. Right on with folding up rather than “finding success.”
      #5. 1983 (EKU). Harry outiside the rink throwing a football…what a gross out. Best

  • Art Donahoe CGS '71, SED '77 on 04.07.2013 at 2:25 pm

    All you folks need to get on the “Save BU Wrestling” Facebook page, get active, and save our sport.

  • Ralph Carotenuto on 04.10.2013 at 3:34 pm

    We do not have to allow elites to make decisions for us. Please fight with us to save this wonderful sport at this prestigous university.

  • greg breier on 04.12.2013 at 2:30 am

    To anyone reading this article/comment, please do not give up on BU Wrestling. This decision was made without any input from the student body, the alumni, or the community. Mike Lynch killed BU wrestling behind closed doors. The same thing went down with Baseball and Football in the 90′s and it is going to happen again. Is this the best BU can do, or can we rise above this injustice? Join save BU wrestling today and support the heart of BU athletics.

  • Omar Eton on 04.23.2013 at 7:14 pm

    I never write on blogs… but this is an exception. This is really a tragic moment for a great sport and a great coach who brought so much enthusiasm and leadership to so many young people. Wrestling builds character and is a sport for all those young men who need to get it together in life but can’t play some of the other big sports. It is an individual sport – each wrestler owns his mistakes and his victories. My attendance at Harvard and my subsequent academic career in medicine emerged from developing self-confidence on the mats in high school. Wrestling coaches are among the best role models since they help each one learn to win and to surmount great challenges. Wrestling coaches prepare individuals better for life than many other types of instructors. There is no better way to get in shape and develop balance and a sharp mind. As college wrestling fades away in Boston (now also only a club sport at MIT), the high schools may no doubt follow suit. This marks another nail in the coffin of Greco-Roman traditions that had made our society strong over the centuries. Please do not throuw out the good with the bad! Carl Adams or the students must now contact all the alumni and friends to help endow the coaching positions and get the team back on track. That is what some of the wrestlers have been doing at MIT.

  • Richard Aronson on 05.26.2013 at 1:18 pm

    Being a BU graduate – masters and doctorate, I am not surprised that they have dropped another sport — it happens when money is tight and apparently, in this cse,they need money to support lacrosse. I’ve seen this happen in men gymnastics when in 1971-72,the sport had over 220 teams – now they have 17 (16 D1; one D3)… money for ‘other sports’ and good ole’ Title IX.

    Other than ice hockey, where are they?

  • Ed Runci on 08.03.2013 at 7:24 pm

    This ia another example of Title IX killing opportunity for male athletes. My son was a wrestler. He was lucky enough to be the best wrestler in a winning program, but I’ve seen numerous instances of his fellow wrestlers being screwed just as are the BU wrestlers, and EVERY instance had Title IX as its main push. Title IX may have a good intent, but it’s a badly written and badly applied law. It’s past time for it to be reviwed and revised with objectivity and commonsense.

  • Edwin Scott on 12.27.2013 at 1:12 pm

    Isn’t the answer for a poorly performing team to replace the coach, not get rid of the team.

    Wrestling is a great sport and its very cheap to have a program relative to other sports.

  • Rob Mack on 01.13.2014 at 12:30 pm

    The NCAA D 1 schools have only dropped wrestling at BU…Oregon also dropped to add baseball….but D 2 and lower along with NAIA have added much more than dropped…look at Life, Brewton Parker, St. Andrews, Belmont Abbey, Darton, Gardner Webb, Anderson, SMC, Lyon, Williams Baptist, Hope College,…etc…all have added….

  • TitleIX on 02.16.2014 at 11:12 pm

    Title IX requires that institutions that receive federal funding provide equal opportunities for “any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Primarily, this was meant to cover education. Sports became a focus later due to lawsuits.

    60% of the students at BU are women. To meet Title IX’s gender equity requirement in education, BU needs to recruit and admit about 3,000 more men. Sports can be a great tool to recruit and retain men.

    I do not understand why the severe under-representation of men in our college’s and universities is not THE civil rights issue of our generation.

  • Jeremy on 03.16.2014 at 3:01 pm

    As a wrestling fan I feel it is time to save wrestling period. Any school that has dropped wrestling then I will never watch any of their sporting events and hope my children attend only schools that have wrestling. We need to watch wrestling every chance we get on TV and try to support them by going to watch duels and conference tournaments and Nationals when possible.

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