Save Stanford Wrestling
by Logan Volkert
Earlier in the year, Stanford University announced that it would be eliminating eleven varsity sports, including the wrestling program, at the cessation of the 2021 season. While this was naturally met with backlash from each of the eleven stated programs, Stanford is receiving a particularly large amount from the wrestling community. Rallying behind the ‘Keep Stanford Wrestling’ movement, wrestlers, fans, families, and Stanford alum are pushing to reverse this administrative order on the grounds that it is simply unfair. Per the ‘Keep Stanford Wrestling’ website, university administrators cited their decision as stemming from a “lack of financing and competitive excellence.” In light of what has just unfolded at this year’s NCAA tournament, the wrestling community is hoping to get this decision overturned.
Before the tournament, the wrestling community had raised upwards of $12 million to fund and save Stanford’s program. This effort, however, changed nothing. With their backs against the wall, one wrestler, Shane Griffith, has just finished making the ultimate statement by winning the NCAA tournament in a dominative fashion. Going into the tournament with a Stanford career record of 57-3, Griffith was looking to increase his win/loss ratio and succeeded. On his road to the top of the podium, Griffith upset Iowa’s #1 seeded Alex Marinelli, and he bested Pittsburgh’s #9 seeded Jake Wentzel for the gold. On the mat, Griffith donned a blackout singlet as not to represent a school that no longer wishes to represent him.
Despite the uncomfortable nature of wrestling for a school that is now looking past its wrestling program, Griffith silenced his doubts and attended this year’s NCAA tournament. While everyone tied to Stanford wrestling was disheartened at the news, nobody thought that Griffith’s chance to make a statement should be taken from him, so he was encouraged to push forward and fight. Per a post-match interview with Griffith, he said, “In the middle of the night one night, I just texted my dad. I said, ‘You know what, we’re not gonna question it. We’re gonna rip it, and we’re gonna win NCAAs this year.’ And he said, ‘Alright, buddy, I’m going with you.’”
With everyone supporting and staying behind him after his major success, only time will tell if this year’s fireworks of an NCAA tournament will change the course of what is an otherwise dark era in the world of collegiate wrestling. If anyone is wanting to help the ‘Keep Stanford Wrestling’ cause, Griffith suggested they send an email to Stanford’s administrative department. You can also check out the ‘Keep Stanford Wrestling’ website, which has an entire page dedicated to ways in which anyone can help out.
No matter what happens with Stanford University’s wrestling program, we send our best wishes to their team and to those who are involved with any of the other sports cited as terminable. Let’s Save Stanford Wrestling, Stanford Athletics, and commend Shane Griffith and those who compete alongside him for their excellent performances and displays of heart. And Stanford, if you’re reading this, I hope you change your mind.