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.