On April 18, Director of Athletics Curt Apsey announced the decision to cut the wrestling program from Athletics, and replace it with a baseball program.
“This was not an easy decision, but one that needed to be made as we consider the long-term vision for Bronco Athletics,” said Apsey in a press release on the decision.
The announcement caught many off guard, including the wrestling team members themselves, given no forewarning before the public announcement the program would be cut.
Apsey assured both students and coaches that their scholarships and contracts with the school will be honored and players will be allowed to transfer.
“We will continue to honor the scholarships we provide our student athletes and will do all we can to help those who want to continue their collegiate wrestling careers elsewhere. Additionally, current coaching contracts will be honored,” said Apsey.
Boise State gave multiple reasons for moving on from wrestling and moving toward baseball.
“Boise State intends to add baseball. The elimination of wrestling alone will not be enough from a budgetary or structural standpoint, but it was the first step that needed to be taken to build the future structure of the athletics department,” Boise State athletics said in a press release. “There are multiple factors at play, including our role in the Mountain West and the long-term best interest of the University and its Athletic Department.”
Many in the Boise community are very upset with the decision, petitioning to bring the team back.
A petition titled “Save Boise State Wrestling” looks to reverse Boise State’s decision. The petition was created by Kevin Wood, a former Boise State wrestler who competed with the Broncos from 1979 to 1982.
Wood points to the historical magnitude of wrestling in the petition, currently signed by almost 14,000 people as of April 24, as the reason why Boise State should continue to support the wrestling program.
“The Bronco wrestling program has been molding young men since 1959, and wrestling has a strong following in the Boise area and in the State of Idaho,” said Wood. “Boise State had one of the top wrestling programs in the country up until a few years ago. The program was top-ten ranked in 2010-11 and had an NCAA finalist that season (and again in 2013). Since 1999, it has produced two NCAA champions, two Olympians and six Pac-10 team championships.”
Mike Randles, an Idaho resident and wrestling fan, discussed how everyone in the community was left out of the decision.
“Like so many Idaho wrestling fans, I was shocked to hear of Boise State’s decision to drop wrestling and add baseball. A decision that was made so tightly behind closed doors, so far removed from even the most immediate stakeholders that Boise State wrestling coaches were busy recruiting in the moments leading up to this announcement,” said Randles in a statement. “The announcement was not only handled with a lack of professional courtesy and forethought, but the decision itself is flawed on too many levels to count.”
Randles states that first, Boise State is a state college and should—by any standard—be a reflection of the community that it inhabits; second, wrestling is a more culturally diverse sport than baseball; third, the argument that Boise State wrestling is steeped in tradition and is an emotional appeal, and that should be considered, nonetheless; fourth, many people in the community see this as a business decision. Business decisions are predicated on profit. Dropping wrestling and adding baseball is not a profitable decision.
Although there is a very strong opposition to this decision from Boise State, Boise State President Bob Kustra made it clear the decision is final.
In a letter sent by ASBSU President Sienna George, ASBSU student assembly was misinformed when looking to fight against the decision to cut the wrestling program.
“After careful consideration of the resolution (brought forth by the 2016-2017 outgoing executive team), and conversation with the outgoing ASBSU Student Body President it is clear to us that the resolution was passed with an incomplete understanding of the relevant facts. I want to express my sincerest apologies for this oversight,” said George.
“This decision aligns us more effectively with the Mountain West, how we can best use the athletic program for Boise State and its future enrollment beyond athletics.” said Kustra in a statement released on April 20. “We have been on a year-to-year contract with the Pac-12, which makes long-term planning and being in control of our future difficult. I appreciate that wrestlers and their families want to petition, but this isn’t a decision that is revocable. This is the final decision. We have to move forward.”
Boise State Athletics stated there is no timetable for when they will add a baseball team, but they are moving ahead as quickly as possible. They also stated wrestling is not a part of Boise State Athletics’ plan moving forward, and it is highly unlikely it would return.