by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
A recent hotbed of mixed martial arts talent, Arizona State University on Tuesday announced the discontinuation of its wrestling program, along with two other varsity sports, men’s swimming and men’s tennis.
Cain Velasquez, C.B. Dollaway, Ryan Bader, and Aaron Simpson are all ASU alums. They all emerged from the university’s wrestling program. The quartet has burst onto the MMA scene amassing a combined professional record of 16 wins to zero defeats.
Velasquez recently made his Octagon debut, defeating Brad Morris at UFC 83 in Montreal; Dollaway is a cast member of the current season of the UFC’s reality series “The Ultimate Fighter;” Bader has quietly amassed a perfect 7-0 record, tops in the bunch; and Simpson, also a former assistant coach at ASU, is set to compete on the current season of American Gladiator.
But their roots, their base that gave them a jump start on their MMA careers, the wrestling program at ASU, is on the chopping block.
In its official statement on Tuesday, the university sited “economic realities experienced over a long period of time” as the primary reason for shutting down the wrestling program.
According to ASU’s Vice President of University Athletics, Lisa Love, “These three sports were selected with the following criteria: financial impact, potential competitive success, conference/regional support and gender equity. Our revenue trajectory has been positive, however, our ongoing financial challenges have been well documented by the media. The decision to discontinue sport programs is a last resort, yet necessary.”
One of the largest universities in the country, and not the only one suffering financial hardships, Arizona State may be setting an example that other educational institutions may follow, possibly to the detriment of mixed martial arts.