Pushed to the Margins

Too often, the sport of wrestling is pushed to the margins at the Division III level.  With tight budgets and a lack of understanding from some administrators, wrestling finds itself hanging by a thin thread.  This is evidently the case at Muskingum College.  As reported previously, Muskingum College has hired Joe Montgomery as Head Wrestling Coach. Montgomery is a graduate of Mount Union College where he wrestled for a single season, compiling a 1-5 record at 141 pounds for then-coach Marcus Lambdin.  Montgomery was not a state qualifier in high school, nor does he have any experience as a wrestling coach (head or assistant) at any level, yet he is now the head coach of a college program.  He does, however, have experience as the defensive backs coach at Emory & Henry College, and his new position at Muskingum also involves assisting with the football team.  Clearly, his position with wrestling is secondary to his position as a football assistant.  Muskingum has all but announced that wrestling is not important at the school, and their hiring choices reflect that.  The published operating (non-salary) budget for wrestling according to the EADA Disclosure web site was $15,606 for the 2005-2006 season.  This is toward the bottom of Division III schools, but there are more than a few schools below this amount, so the potential is there to attempt to field a competitive team, but it appears the school does not have the desire to do so.  Montgomery may turn out to be a fine coach who is able to recruit, train, and motivate his team to high performance, and I hope he is able to do so.  However, the deck is stacked against Muskingum Wrestling and it is disheartening to see a program marginalized by turning the team over to a coach who:
– wrestled part of one season in college
– has no wrestling coaching experience at any level
– is the youngest head coach in NCAA wrestling

Let me reiterate that I hope Montgomery learns quickly on the job and beats the odds to become an excellent wrestling coach.  I just wanted to point out how wrestling can be pushed aside at smaller schools, and that choosing your wrestling coach based on how he helps the football team does not bode well for the future of the sport.