Fresno State President Joseph Castro stated the obvious when he said a "compelling case" has been made to reinstate wrestling as an NCAA sport at the university. Wrestling is a highly popular sport in the San Joaquin Valley and it was a short-sighted decision for Fresno State to drop it six years ago for budgetary and gender-equity reasons.
Those are still factors in reinstating wrestling, but they have never been insurmountable issues had the university really wanted to keep the sport. While it's one thing for Castro to say he will reconsider reinstating wrestling, there's still a process that must be completed to bring the sport back.
Castro said it could cost up to $500,000 annually to keep a new wrestling program operating, and he will ask the community to help with the funding. He will also have to make sure that the university athletic program stays in line with federal Title IX regulations requiring schools to balance opportunities in men's and women's athletics.
Castro raised the wrestling possibility on Friday during a news conference that also included plans for other university upgrades. He said he plans to assemble a team early next year to review all of Fresno State's sports programs, including men's soccer, as well as wrestling. Castro offered few details about his plans, but said last week that bringing back wrestling wouldn't necessarily require making cuts in other areas.
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"I think there is a compelling case that's being made for wrestling, and I want to make sure that information is all part of the review and the discussions," Castro said.
It is clear that Castro would not have raised the possibility of reinstating wrestling if he does not intend to go down that path. Wrestling supporters have spent the past six years lobbying for the sport, and it would not be a wise public relations move for the new university president to raise hopes for the sport, and then dash them. Now wrestling supporters must help Castro solve this problem.
We applaud Castro's willingness to take on this issue, and recognize the rightful place that wrestling has in the San Joaquin Valley. For the past six years, there has been a major hole in the Fresno State athletics program. The region's best high school wrestlers should have an opportunity to compete at Fresno State.