National champions lose their program
By Patrick Carey
The University of Nebraska-Omaha wrestling team won their third consecutive NCAA Division II national title and their sixth in eight years on March 12.
Later that night during the teams’ celebration their head coach Mike Denney received a phone call from the schools athletic director letting them know that their program had been cut.
Earlier in the day while the wrestling team was in the process of winning another national title, the school decided to make the jump from Division II to Division I. Making that decision, athletic director Trev Alberts decided that it would be best to cut the football and wrestling teams.
Alberts decided it was best because the school was moving to the Summit League and there is no wrestling in that league. Also he wanted to focus on the schools hockey and men’s basketball team, both of which are sub par programs compared to the wrestling team.
To cut a program that is the premier sport at the school and to do it the night they win their national title is dishonorable to the program and the sport of wrestling.
It wasn’t too long ago that CSU-Pueblo was in a similar predicament. In 2001 the wrestling team took fourth in the nation finishing with six All-Americans. Two months after taking fourth the school decided to cut their program, unlike UNO it was for financial reasons. Both are similar in that they were completely unexpected and happened fairly shortly after the national tournament.
The sport of wrestling continues to be disrespected in the college sports world. It doesn’t matter how successful a wrestling program is, or how it is fully funded, it still can be cut. Every year many collegiate teams get cut, this month alone three teams have been dropped: University of Nebraska-O—-maha, University of North Carolina -Greensboro and the University of Sioux Falls.
The UNO wrestling team isn’t giving up without a fight. They have had protests from people in the community they formed their own website that people can pledge to the program. They also have backing from the wrestling community.
The man behind the cut is Alberts, who has been athletic director for less than two years. He had no prior experience as an athletic director before becoming one at UNO. Alberts is known for being a standout defensive player for the University of Nebraska and commentator for ESPN.
Alberts was fired from ESPN for refusing to show up to do commentary. He left because he was upset with his role as a commentator and wanted a bigger part on the network.
UNO looked past the firing and still hired Alberts as their athletic director. He is only looking for the next best thing and not concerned with his own athletes. He says the big reason for cutting wrestling is because the Summit League doesn’t have wrestling, yet there are two teams in the league, North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University, who both have Division I wrestling teams that wrestle in the Western Wrestling Conference.
Alberts has no real reason to cut a strong thriving program like the wrestling and is only looking in his best interest not the schools.
If you are interested in helping the UNO wrestling team you can make a pledge on their website here.