St. Louis Public Radio News
4:32 pm
Thu November 28, 2002

SIU-Edwardsville to Scrap Wrestling Program

Edwardsville, IL – Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville announced yesterday it would end its wrestling program after this season because of budget shortfalls.

"This was not an easy decision," said SIUE Director of Athletics Brad Hewitt in a statement. "But it is the most prudent financial decision. In keeping with the University's Vision Statement, Intercollegiate Athletics' prime ambition is to be recognized nationally for the excellence in its programs."

"We considered many options, including across-the-board cuts and the opportunity for additional revenues sources," Hewitt added. "And decided that discontinuing the wrestling program was the most realistic option, consistent with the our guiding principles and strategic plan."

Those athletes who currently have wrestling scholarships will not lose that aid.

The wrestling Cougars won three consecutive NCAA team championships in the from 1984-1986.

The team's current coach, Booker Benford, set the SIUE record for career victories when he was a student-athlete with a 161-34-1 record. He also was also an individual national champion in his weight category during two of SIUE's team championship seasons.