DSU announced yesterday that it is cutting its wrestling team due to economic issues, gender equity concerns, and issues around the team's academic performance.
The last is a problem plaguing several DSU teams and will likely result in some NCAA sanctions.
But it was the wrestling team that received the bad news. No word on the criteria used to make the decision, but it seems like there was very little department support for the team in recent years. Four coaches in the past four years, no dedicated facility and the increasing awareness that the team needed more than the school was able to provide. In the end, the department will save just under $40,000 by eliminating the team (not including, of course, projected costs to make improvements).
The Delaware wrestling community is taking the news hard given that now no state school will field a wrestling team. University of Delaware cut their team in the early 90s.
A local high school coach, Dicky Howell, spoke repeatedly of the lack of institutional support for the team and the student-athletes but turned around and blamed Title IX anyway citing the loss of wrestling teams since the passage. But as many of us know, and as Donna Lopiano reiterated last week in her talk at Western New England College, wrestling's demise isn't because of Title IX. It just is not as popular of a sport any more. There are certainly pockets of interest but other sports have overtaken it in terms of participation. And with the increasing emphasis on specialization at earlier and earlier ages, less popular sports see an even sharper decrease in participation. Maybe more kids would wrestle if they weren't playing soccer or lacrosse year-round.
And, of course, we are only speaking of men's wrestling. Women's wrestling seems to be growing. It remains to be seen how the sport, which the NCAA still has not recognized as an emerging sport, grows in the coming years.