BOISE - Boise State will drop wrestling as an intercollegiate sport in an effort to make room for a baseball program, the university announced Tuesday.
Assistant athletic director Joe Nickell said the decision came as the school tries to better align its 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.
"This was not an easy decision, but one that needed to be made as we consider the long-term vision for Bronco athletics," athletic director Curt Apsey said in a statement. "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."
Apsey added that current coaching contracts will also be honored.
We spoke with senior Boise State wrestler Austin Dewey Tuesday night. He was shocked by the decision to drop the program.
“I was completely shocked, I remember at the beginning of the year, we did a lot of meetings with (Curt) Apsey and he was like, this is a family team, this is a family that we support, that has the backing of this administration, and he came to a couple of our meetings and everything and to get this kind of news is indefinite sadness, anger, a lot of frustration, I feel like I got stabbed in the back.”
“It’s hard to take in, it’s really hard man, 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, cause that is something these local kids all look up to want to do.”
By adding baseball, officials believe the sport will "strengthen the long-term brand and reputation of Boise State at a national level."
Boise State said eliminating wrestling alone will not be enough to pay for the baseball program, but that it is a step in the right direction.
The wrestling team competes in the Pac-12 Conference, where it has won six conference championships since 2000. The most recent championship came in 2011.
According to the university, members of the wrestling team are free to transfer to another school, and Boise State will help them in that process. Scholarships will be honored for those who wish to remain at Boise State.
At this point, there is no timeline for adding a baseball program, but officials say they are committed to moving forward with the plan as quickly as possible.
© 2017 KTVB-TV