Old Dominion University says that decreased revenue streams from the COVID-19 pandemic played a part in the Norfolk, Va., school cutting its wrestling program.
The university announced the decision Thursday, saying it will go into effect immediately in an effort to save money and improve competitiveness in the school’s remaining 16 NCAA sports. When women's volleyball is added this fall, the school will have nine women’s teams and seven men’s teams.
"We are saddened to have to make this decision, but it's one that was made with the long-term best interest of the athletics program in mind," director of athletics Dr. Camden Wood Selig said in the press release, cutting the program that has been in place since the 1957-58 season. "No one wants to reduce opportunities for young men to compete and represent Old Dominion, but we are required to be responsible with departmental resources. Our decision became even more clear during this coronavirus crisis, which we know will have significant impact on future athletics budgets. This decision will better allow the remaining sports to compete at a national level."
Old Dominion’s cost-saving efforts began prior to the coronavirus outbreak. The university’s press release said that an outside consultant had conducted a six-month study into the athletics program, evaluating financial challenges and Title IX compliance. The consultant estimated that cutting a varsity sport would save Old Dominion about $1 million.
Old Dominion wrestling coach Steve Martin has agreed to remain on staff to help current and incoming wrestlers deal with the decision. The Monarchs, who wrestle in the Mid-American Conference, had four individuals advance to the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which were canceled due to the coronavirus.
“I understand these are challenging times for everyone, not only in athletics, but in every walk of life,” Martin said. “I care a great deal about the student-athletes and coaches in the wrestling program at ODU, and I’m committed to work with each one of them to assist them during this transition.”
The university announced that current wrestlers, 25 of which have eligibility remaining, will retain their scholarships through the completion of their fourth academic year. Incoming recruits will retain their scholarships for 2020-21.