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DECISION TO DROP WRESTLING STRANDS UND STUDENT ATHLETES

Unfortunate it has become a reality UND has decided to immediately drop its intercollegiate wrestling program. Like the decision itself, the way this UND reached this conclusion and the way UND informed the athletes is equally distressing.

When transferring to UND I specifically asked if UND intended to keep its wrestling program. A top official guaranteed me that the program was stable and that the intercollegiate athletic committee just had solidified wrestling for the next four years, which would have included, at a minimum, the 1998-1999 season. I had no reason not to believe this, so I transferred to UND before the start of the 1995-1996 school year.

The timeliness of this decision is possibly just as damaging as the decision to drop the program. No mention of the possible resolution was made to the wrestlers until the beginning of May. By then, most coaches have a very good idea about what their team will look like for the upcoming season. Most schools recruit for a year or two in the future, so transfers are usually not welcome. Also, recruiting is usually completed by the end of the school year or shortly after. After that, scholarship money is unavailable. Schools that drop programs have to offer athletes their scholarship for the upcoming school year as per NCAA rules. However, in nonrevenue sports such as wrestling, the opportunity to compete, not money, is an athlete's main motivation since scholarships do not even come close to funding an education. So, if I have to pay for a majority of my own education, I may as well do it somewhere that I can compete in my chosen sport.

I am scheduled to graduate in the spring of 1999. Because curricula vary from school to school, I could find an identical major at another institution. The scholarship I received from UND, will be forfeited if I went to another school. Excluding the forfeiture of my academic scholarship if I were forced to attend another school, I will be in school longer, so my student loans will mount at the same time I am not entering my chosen career field.

Coach Bruce Moe, my teammates and I volunteered to raise the money to continue the program. Strangely, this was not allowed to happen. If it is truly a budget issue, this seems to be the perfect solution for the school and student-athletes. We are allowed to continue our education and compete for UND while the school does not carry the financial burden of the wrestling program. George Schubert, a member of the intercollegiate athletic committee, said fund-raising from so many sources would create a headache for the athletic administration. I think a better description of a headache is having to find a school that matches your academic and athletic needs only two months before the start of a new term. Of the approximately 18 team members, all but three are currently leaning toward leaving the university.

Chris Zink, Captain, UND wrestling team

Grand Forks Herald, July 9, 1998

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