BOISE - Boise State President Bob Kustra said in a statement Thursday that the decision to eliminate the university's wrestling program is final.
Kustra admitted that he regrets that members of the wrestling team were caught off guard, adding that the timing of the announcement was a result of needing "to take time to figure this out and how to do it."
The university announced on Tuesday that it was eliminating wrestling as an intercollegiate sport in an effort to make room for a possible future baseball program. The school is trying to better align its athletic programs with other universities in the Mountain West Conference.
Currently, baseball is the only Mountain West-sponsored sport not offered by Boise State. Officials said the university could not afford to support both programs simultaneously. Boise State's wrestling team competed in the Pac-12, where it won six conference championships - most recently in 2011.
Senior wrestler Austin Dewey told KTVB Tuesday night that he was shocked to hear that the program was abandoned, and felt like had been "stabbed in the back."
“It’s hard to take in, I’ve never felt more angry in my life at one decision," Dewey said. "This program is, I can’t even tell you what it means to me, my family, to the community, just in this city, it means everything to have this team here, because that is something these local kids all look up to want to do.”
In the hours after the news broke, an online petition emerged in an effort to save the wrestling program. As of Thursday afternoon, it had received nearly 10,000 signatures.
Kustra said he understands why supporters of the program want to petition the decision, but that it won't make a difference in the outcome.
"I appreciate that wrestlers and their families want to petition, but this isn’t a decision that is revocable," he said. "This is the final decision. We have to move forward."
Kustra reiterated that the university will honor wrestlers' scholarships, and that it has offered contract extensions for the coaching staff.
Kustra's full statement:
This is a decision that was made for the future that is falling very hard for those in the present. I deeply regret that these wrestlers were caught off guard, and I regret the timing, which was a direct result of having to take time to figure this out and how to do it. Boise State is committed to honoring the scholarships of all wrestling student-athletes, and has offered extensions for the coaching staff so they are better able to determine their next steps.
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. We did the math, trying to figure ways to be all things to all people, but it was hard to figure out how to build one and maintain the other. From a budgetary and conference standpoint, we couldn’t make it all happen. 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.