By Patrick Cooley, Sports Editor
It seems the UNO Wrestling team may be resurrected after all, this time in suburban St. Louis.
Former UNO coaches and wrestlers made a visit last week to Maryville University, a Division II school located in Town and Country, a St. Louis suburb, to discuss the possibility of starting a wrestling program, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It’s still unclear how many former Maverick wrestlers and coaches would move to the new school.
But the source, who works within the University’s Athletic Department, said a number of former Maverick wrestlers and coaches were greeted by Maryville cheerleaders at an area hotel. He anticipates an official announcement soon.
Marty Parkes, Associate Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations at Maryville University, said his school has been looking to expand the number of sports it offers.
“For many months we’ve looked into adding varsity sports at Maryville including wrestling, which made the list of sports that we thought would make a good fit here,” Parkes said. “If and when we make such a decision, a formal announcement will be made.”
On Tuesday, Parkes said that the University hopes to have a decision made in the next seven to 10 days.
James Reynolds, a former graduate assistant on the UNO wrestling team who spearheaded the team’s efforts to fight elimination, said that the two sides are “working on stuff” but nothing more could be said at this time. Reynolds said he would be able to say more when Maryville makes a press release available.
Last month, UNO announced plans to move to Division I athletics. In the process, the athletic department decided to eliminate its wrestling and football programs to save money and align itself better with its new Division I conference – the Summit League which will go into effect July 1.
The wrestling program was informed of the decision hours after winning its third consecutive Division II National Championship. The NU Board of Regents ultimately decided the fate of the programs on March 25 when it approved UNO’s decision to drop the programs.
Maryville doesn’t currently have a wrestling program and is in the process of hiring a new athletic director. A job description for the athletic director position states that the university is “seeking a dynamic and collaborative athletic director to lead the athletics department during a period of growth and expansion.”
The anonymous source questioned the school’s ability to add a new program especially given turnover in the athletic department and the school’s financial situation. Former Athletic Director Tony Duckworth announced he would be leaving the university at the end of May.
Parkes disagreed with such a negative assessment of the university’s financial state.
“[Maryville] University is in a fine financial state,” he said. “[Former Athletic Director Tony Duckworth] resigned awhile ago and will be leaving at the end of May. The University is committed to having a great athletics program.”
Maryville is a smalll private university with only 3,700 undergraduates. It’s also in its final year of transition to Division II athletics and is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, which, according to the job posting, is “the nation’s premier Division II conference.”
The Great Lakes Valley doesn’t sponsor wrestling and Parkes said it’s still unclear whether Maryville would join a conference for wrestling or compete as an independent.