A rash of donations sent to Arizona State University after the school announced the termination of its wrestling team has saved the storied program.
Earlier this month, ASU Athletic Director Lisa Love announced the school’s wrestling, men’s tennis and men’s swimming programs had been cut to trim the school’s athletic budget.
However, last week the wrestling program—which has produced undefeated MMA prospects such as Cain Velasquez (3-0), C.B. Dollaway (6-0), Aaron Simpson (2-0) and Ryan Bader (7-0)—got a reprieve when a group of supporters pledged an endowment of nearly $8 million, according to an ASU spokesperson.
The wrestling program has been reinstated and is now operating as usual, though fundraising for the sport will be an ongoing process.
“The wrestling community, both locally and nationally, accepted this as a challenge to do something wonderful for the sport,” Love stated on ASU’s athletics website. “ASU is forever grateful for that passion and unwavering support. Something special is happening on our campus thanks to civic leadership that cares deeply about ASU wrestling.”
Dollaway, a current cast member on “The Ultimate Fighter” who blogs for MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
), wrote a guest column in which he praised the program’s loyal supporters.
“ASU allowed wrestling boosters to financially support and build one of the most dominant athletic programs in all of ASU history,” Dollaway wrote. “The team was able to recruit some of the best athletes in the country and build a state-of-the-art wrestling facility in recent years—all from the support of our booster groups such as The Sun Angles. These people give time and money to help support all of the sports at ASU.”
The ASU wrestling team, which competes in the Pac-10 conference, won an NCAA Division I national championship in 1988. The program has also created eight individual national champions and 100 All-Americans since launching a varisty team in 1962.