TIME SENSITIVE – Brown University Wants to Drop Wrestling


By Vinnie Moita & Jack Roberts -Brown Wrestler

A Brown committee has submitted the recommendation to drop our wrestling program, in addition to the mens and women’s fencing teams and womens skiing team. The committee was formed last year to evaluate Brown athletics and make Brown athletics as competitive in the Ivy League as possible. Brown coaches are paid much less than other Ivy League coaches, and Brown’s athletic facilities pale in comparison to those from other Ivy League schools. The committee decided that the best way to fix the problem was to drop sports, to leave more funding available for the sports it would retain.

The committee created a list of criteria which it would consider while deciding which programs to drop. The criteria included the history of the team, the number of entrance slots given to that sport, the teams use of facilities, the importance of the team within the Ivy League, and, of course, gender equality. Fencing was selected because it has no facilities, practices on the indoor track while the track team is running around it, and has only one coach, while most fencing teams have three. Skiing was selected because it has to travel an hour to and from practice every day, and this takes away from skiers’ time to do academic work.

The only one of the criteria reviewed by the committee that applies to wrestling is the entrance slots. Brown averages about 8 per year, which is more than most sports (excluding football). Brown is trying to cut 30 slots total from its all its sports teams because it feels that too many athletes on campus creates a lack of diversity. However, I would argue that wrestling brings in a group of guys that is quite diverse. How many guys like me do you think you would find on campus? I think we bring in a portion of the rural communities that would otherwise go untouched by Brown admissions.

None of the other criteria seem to apply to wrestling. We are almost entirely self funded; the only thing the university funds is our coaches’ salaries. As far as history goes, we are one of the older sports on campus. Our current head coach has been here 27 years. We use our own room, so we have no effect on facility use by other teams. It appears that wrestling was only chosen to counteract the drop of the women’s skiing team.

We had a down year last year. But we have a very talented young team, with Pennsylvania and New York state champs, and a former NCAA qualifier. We also have an incoming class of freshmen including a Pennsylvania state runner up, an undefeated Texas state champ, and a three time Kansas state champ. Our current wrestlers are faced with the possibility of having to choose to stay here and stop wrestling, or to give up an Ivy League education to go somewhere else to wrestle. The incoming freshmen could possibly find out in May that they won’t be able to wrestle here, when it will be too late for them to transfer most other places.

So what is the next step from here?

Tomorrow morning, there is a presentation open to all student athletes. Mr. Dick Spies, a member of the committee and the chief usher of this package to drop these four sports, will be presenting the committee’s reasons for this recommendation. I am working on getting as many athletes as possible to attend and let Mr. Spies know that this is not in the best interest of the university.

Next week, our head coach, David Amato, along with one representative from each graduating class on our team, will meet with Mr. Spies to let him know how this decision will be affecting us and the university. After Mr. Spies hears what we have to say, he will take his report, along with our input, to President Ruth Simmons. She will review the information and make a decision around the last week of May. Some of my teammates and I also plan to meet with President Simmons personally to give her our opinions on this decision.

We have a tremendous amount of alumni support. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee is a Brown wrestling alumnus and former team captain. Mr. Spies and President Simmons will both feel a lot of pressure from the alumni, the team, the coaches, and our parents to keep our program active. We must remember that this is only a recommendation, but we need to realize that without a lot of persuasion, the University will most likely act on this recommendation.

If any of you would like to voice your opinions on why Brown should keep its wrestling team, I will include the email addresses of both Mr. Spies and President Simmons. I would recommend contacting Mr. Spies now, and President Simmons after the information has been passed along to her. Please be respectful, both of these individuals are only doing what they feel is best for the university.

Princeton went through a similar situation a few years ago, and with support from alumni and fans, they were able to keep their program, and they are very competitive now. This is a fight we can win.

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated with any new developments.

Richard_spies@brown.edu
president@brown.edu

Comments

  1. Susan Watterson says:

    Vinny, great post!

  2. Why not add a women’s college wrestling team at Brown U. to help with gender compliance and team morale issues? Brown already has wrestling facilities. There are already well over a dozen women’s wrestling teams nationwide:

    http://www.nwcaonline.com/nwcawebsite/savingwrestlinghome/wheretowrestle.aspx

    And there are even more

    http://www.ncwWa.net

    women’s teams at still other colleges & universities. The lists are understandably growing while our national debt (http://www.usdebtclock.org ) forces law enforcement budgets and police availability to shrink.

    If Brown’s potential team needs athletes, Texas has over 200 gals’ high school teams and an annual state tourney. California now has its own state tourney for gals, too, as do Hawaii and Washington. Tennessee’s in on some of the action, and Alaska is reportedly about to launch its own state tourney for gals. Other states, such as Virginia, hold unofficial gals’ state wrestling tourneys and sanctioning will become more viable as the sport’s increasingly embraced. Surely at least some of these tenacious female wrestlers could meet Brown’s outstanding academic standards?

    The sport’s growing with women and freestyle wrestling became an Olympics sport for them in 2004. The U.S.A. has already won Olympic medals in women’s wrestling! Sooner or later a D-1 program will finally emerge to help electrify the scene and fortify growth trends. Why not have Brown spearhead the growth? Doesn’t Brown pride itself on preparing tomorrow’s pioneers and leaders?

    At any rate, PLEASE keep in mind that wrestling’s the one sport that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of blindness, deafness, amputee status, size or gender. Wouldn’t you like to view at least a few moments from Arizona State’s Anthony Robles’ 2011 NCAA finals match v. Iowa’s defending NCAA champion, Matt McDonough?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5W4RZq1NRg

    Anthony was born without a leg, but finally found a sport that could accept and help him in mutually beneficial ways. Wouldn’t it be mutually beneficial for Brown to have wrestling teams for BOTH genders?

  3. Arnie Gerardo says:

    Vinnie,
    I hope it isn’t so!

    I know it would be difficult to leave Brown for a non Ivy League school, however a couple of the Ivy League schools do accept transfers. Please have your back- up plan ready to go. There is always a great demand for lower weight wrestlers in college. Ian Roy and I wish you the best. Advise your Dad (Jim) to call me if he needs to talk (760) 212-9455.

  4. Mother of Prospective Wrestler says:

    Sad to hear this. My son wants to apply next fall and would probably
    not apply. (Not that Brown will be hurting for applications under any
    situation!) He is an accomplished wrestler, nationally ranked, and has outstanding grades, test scores, and leadership/extracurriculars from a highly regarded school. I hope that any school
    that reconsiders their wrestling program knows that they will lose some diverse, talented, and highly disciplined athletes.

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