Boise State Puts Cancellation On Pause As Pres Faces Pressure From Students

Boise State Puts Cancellation On Pause As Pres Faces Pressure From Students
Photo: Tony Rotundo
UPDATE: Late Wednesday evening, April 19, Flo received notice from former Boise State wrestlers and current coaches that a student meeting on campus had concluded that would "pause" the cancelation of the the Bronco wrestling program, and that serious issues with the decision and how it was made would be brought to the attention of Boise State President Bob Kustra. In an interview with the Idaho Statesman Thursday morning, April 20, President Kustra appears to have thrown cold water on that notion. 

Under pressure from the student council, Boise State administrators have agreed to request that President Bob Kustra suspend his decision to drop the wrestling program pending further review.

Flo has learned from sources present at the BSU student body meeting on Wednesday night that the process to drop the sport has been put on pause. A statement on the matter is expected from Kustra by the end of Monday, April 24.

Details that appear to cast BSU administration statements in a contradictory light have been emerging since the universtiy made its devastating announcement to drop the program Tuesday, raising concerns from the student body that it was neither consulted nor advised regarding the move before the apparent decision was made.

The latest Intercollegiate and Athletics Report issued by the Idaho Board of Education reveals that student fees totaling $3.5 million went to the athletic department in fiscal year 2015. The decision to drop one sport in favor of another, both of which would draw heavily from those fees for operational funding, was apparently done without regard for the opinions of the Boise State student body.

Graduating Broncos senior and 2017 NCAA qualifier Austin Dewey spoke with 99.1 ESPN Boise about the decision. According to Dewey, the team and coaching staff were blindsided by move, which he called "a slap in the face and a stab in the back."

Dewey, a local Boise, ID, native, went on to describe how the team only found out about the move when a compliance officer told the Broncos wrestlers matter of factly that they were done and passed out transfer applications, informing them that they would all be granted their releases from the school.

The scene, as described by Dewey:

Everyone looked at each other as if their entire life got ripped away.
An emotional Dewey described the hope and optimism the team had earlier in the year. According to Dewey, when Director of Athletics Curt Apsey met with the team in the beginning of the season, he assured everyone that the program was a family, one that had the full support of the university.

As per those early season meetings, Dewey recalled setting team goals, not just in competition and recruiting but also in the classroom, which the Broncos achieved by earning a team GPA of 3.12, the highest in program history.

Dewey and his teammates weren't the only ones caught off guard by the abrupt announcement. Bois State head coach Mike Mendoza, who had relocated his entire family from California to Idaho only a year ago, was similarly blindsided, as he recounted the events to the Idaho Statesmen mere hours after he heard the news.

The wrestling community as a whole was also shocked. Flo's Mike Malinconico summed up his feelings and those of many others in the wake of BSU's announcement.

Perhaps more troubling for the Boise State administration is how little planning and forethought Apsey and Kustra appeared to put into this momentous and life-altering decision.

Adam Hall, a 2011 Boise State graduate and one of the most decorated Broncos in recent history, had no idea the move was coming. In a phone interview with Flo, the two-time All-American said, "No one reached out to the alumni. The students were caught off guard. There has been a complete lack of transparency."

Sources close to the program also indicate that deep-pocketed and active donors are stunned and are seeking answers from an increasingly absent administration.

So far the only communication to the outside world has come from this statement, no longer featured on the front page of the Broncos athletics website. The university's social media accounts have also gone incommunicado on the subject.

Curiously, the statement mentioned that there is no timeline for adding baseball, the sport for which wrestling is purportedly being dropped. Kustra has made public statements for years about how reinstating baseball at Boise State is a "pet project" of his. Why wrestling needed to be cut, without warning, to make room for a sport that has no timeline, and no stadium on campus where it could be played, is unclear.

The closest the statement gets to offering any justification for the move is when it explains the decision thusly: "The elimination of wrestling alone will not be enough from a budgetary or structural standpoint, but it was the first step that needed to be taken to build the future structure of the athletics department."

Such statements do more to raise questions than answer them.

We will continue to keep everyone updated with events as they unfold. In the meantime, a Change.org petition has been started to Save Boise State Wrestling. It is unknown what affect it will have, but it never hurts to let your voice be heard.

[Correction: It was previously reported that President Bob Kustra was at the student council meeting on April 19. He was not, nor was he scheduled to be in attendance. We apologize for the error.]
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