Fresno State Athletics Director Thomas Boeh announced today that effective July 1, 2006, the university will discontinue the intercollegiate wrestling program and reinstate the men’s cross country program.
The action is taken as a cost-reduction measure and a significant component of a long-range strategic plan for Fresno State athletics, Boeh said.
“Fresno State is committed to success within the Western Athletic Conference, as well as to the provision of the very best student-athlete experience possible for all our sponsored programs, Boeh said.
“There is strong desire on the part of the university and its constituents to have Fresno State advance to a level of national prominence and compete consistently among the nation’s best. Unfortunately, the rapidly rising costs associated with an NCAA Division I-A athletics program have caused many institutions around the country with similar aspirations to re-evaluate their sports programming. Here at Fresno State, we found our department in the same position,” said Boeh.
In 2005-06, the average NCAA Division I-A athletics department budget was $32.3 million, compared to Fresno State’s $22 million.
“Given today’s industry standards, it is very clear that to remain a sustainable I-A program we need to find more efficiencies,” Boeh said. “This adjustment will enable us to direct an adequate amount of resources, in the form of money, facilities,
support services and staff, toward the support and advancement of all of our student-athletes.”
Scholarship offers to returning student-athletes and incoming freshmen who have
signed letters of intent will be honored until they have completed four years of school at Fresno State or transfer to other institutions. Affected student-athletes will continue to have full use of training and academic facilities and may compete individually if they choose.
The contract for head wrestling coach Shawn Charles will be honored until June 30, 2007. He will be reassigned within the Department of Athletics in the coming academic year.
The announced change means the restoration of men’s cross country after a three
year absence from Fresno State. This action is intended to help advance the men’s track and field program, which has been operating at a significant disadvantage since the discontinuance of men’s cross country in fall 2003. Boeh said the program
will greatly help the men’s track and field program return to conference championship level. The men’s cross country program will require no additional scholarships and will carry a roster of 10-12 student-athletes.
Boeh said among the considerations that led to the decision to discontinue wrestling were:
• An anticipated net annual financial savings of $350,000-$400,000 (not likely to be fully realized until 2008), which will help the long-term financial stability of the athletics program.
• Wrestling is not a sponsored sport with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and is not a broad-based NCAA championship sport.
• The lack of a dedicated wrestling practice facility, locker room and cost-efficient and reasonable competitive venue.
• Wrestling carries a roster of approximately 34 student-athletes and does not have a comparative women’s program.
• The recent low level of academic achievement by the wrestling program’s student athletes.
WRESTLING DISCONTINUED, CROSS COUNTRY REINSTATED
Considerations that led to the decision
1. In the interest of achieving annual financial stability of the athletics program
There will be a net annual financial savings to the program of between $350,000 and $400,000. However, these savings will not likely be fully realized until the 2007-08 academic year.
2. Wrestling is not a sponsored sport within the Western Athletic Conference
The WAC does not sponsor wrestling and points toward the conference all-sports competition are not available.
Fresno State’s wrestling program, following its departure from the PAC 10, it has been competing as an independent. The team was scheduled to join the newly formed Western Wrestling Conference (WWC) in the fall of 2006. It is a conference where the membership is spread out over seven states and three time zones. This dynamic would likely to have significantly increased wrestling travel costs.
Western Wrestling Conference: Air Force Academy, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Utah Valley State, Wyoming.
Wrestling cut to balance sports budget Page 3 of 5
3. The absence of a dedicated wrestling practice facility and locker room
4. The absence of a cost-effective venue for competition
5. The recent history of academic achievement within the wrestling program
The program has most recently scored an NCAA APR rate of 871. This is well below the acceptable rating of 925 and ranks the team in the lowest 10% among Division I wrestling programs.
The team has an aggregate GPA of 2.44. This represents the lowest team GPA in
the athletics department by a large margin and .45 below the average student-athlete average of 2.89.
6. Wrestling is not a broad-based NCAA championship sport
As of September 1, 2005, there were 87 NCAA Division I wrestling programs. This represents roughly 27 percentof the NCAA Division I membership. On the same date there were 303 NCAA Division I men’s cross country programs.
Fresno State, conference and national sports programming
Sport WAC NCAA
Baseball 7* 286
Basketball 9 326
Cross Country 8 303
Football 9 235
Golf 9 289
Tennis 7 264
Track and Field (0) 5 263
Wrestling 2 87
* One affiliate member (Sacramento State) competing in baseball)
With the programming adjustment, the average numbers of NCAA participating institutions reflected in the seven sports that Fresno State will continue to sponsor in the fall of 2006 is 281.
Fresno State will continue to sponsor seven men’s sports in the 2006-07.
7. Wrestling carries a significant roster and scholarship level. It also does not have a like women’s program
Wrestling carries 9.9 equivalency full scholarships and a roster of 35 student-athletes. Continued sponsorship of the sport would impede compliance with Title IX and CALNOW student-athlete participation levels and distribution of athletics aid.
These challenges have become considerably greater in recent years. Currently the student body ratio at Fresno State is 60/40 in favor of women, and the trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.
Further, because wrestling does not have a like women’s program it is less efficient regarding the use of resources and facilities. Finally, the sponsorship of a uniquely
men’s sport also makes it more difficult to make the appropriate comparisons among men’s and women’s sport programs OCR’s “13-point laundry list.”
Fresno State 2005-06 men’s sports scholarship levels and like sport status
Sport NCAA Maximum Like Sport
Baseball 11.7 Yes
Basketball 13* Yes
Cross Country Yes
Football 85* No
Golf 4.5 Yes
Tennis 4.5 Yes
Track and Field 12.6 Yes
Wrestling 9.9 No
* Offer only full ride scholarships.
The reinstated men’s cross country program will carry a roster of 10-12 individuals
and, per NCAA rule; the scholarship distribution will be absorbed into the men’s track and field allotment. The net result is an improvement in the participation and scholarship ratio between men and women student-athletes at Fresno State.
It is important to note that although the department’s mission to achieve compliance with Title IX standards was not a primary driving force behind the decision to
discontinue the wrestling program and reinstate men’s cross country; this adjustment will indeed result in a positive effect on the department’s gender equity.
8. Reinstatement of men’s cross country
The reinstatement of men’s cross country is expected to cost less than $25,000 annually, which will be recovered via the NCAA sport sponsorship distribution, Subsequently, any additional cost for the program will be negligible.