Sports, Wrestling

BU wrestling community reacts to loss

Carl Adams had a busy day Monday. He got a call from a top New York high school wrestler, who, after weeks of contemplation, decided to commit to Boston University for the fall. Then the 32-year BU wrestling coach hosted another recruit and his father, who came up from West Virginia, to have lunch and give them a tour of the campus.

But by the end of the day, Adams was brought to tears. BU administration announced its decision to kill the varsity wrestling program at the end of the 2013-14 season.

“I’m no fool. I’ve seen other programs get dropped over the years,” Adams said. “But I had a recruit on campus. [The recruit and his father] asked a very pointed question yesterday. They said, ‘How stable is the program?’ And I raved about how supportive the administration had been and the fact that we’ve come a long way.

“Within the next hour I had to call them back and say, ‘How ironic’ and apologize for telling them what I told them about the support that we had.”

For Adams, who has won 10 conference championships and coached four All-Americans in his three-plus decades at BU, the news came as a complete shock. He was not involved in any prior discussions and did not find out about the decision until he met with athletic director Mike Lynch 3 p.m. Monday — about the same time BU announced it publicly.

“I’m insulted,” Adams said. “When you put your heart and soul into something, you don’t expect to get blindsided.

“I feel terrible for the kids in the program. I feel terrible for the sport of wrestling,” Adams continued. “I don’t know what prompted this decision. The administrators, they’ve been good to the program. I love working at BU. That makes it all that much more shocking. The program is moving in a good direction, and then it feels like you got hit in the back of the head by a 2-by-4.”

Adams said the team was informed about two hours later, after the news began circulating online.

“It was a shock. It was like, ‘Why? Why us?’” Adams said. “Kids were crying, some of them. That’s a really tough situation for college athletes who put their heart and soul into the sport that they loved — to lose it all of a sudden.”

The exact reasoning for the decision is unclear. BU Athletics representatives did not respond to calls Tuesday afternoon seeking comment, but a Monday release said “an immense infusion of resources, including major facility enhancements and additional staffing, would be required” to bring the team to a championship-caliber level.

The first paragraph of Adams’ biography on goterriers.com, BU’s official athletics website, reads, “Carl Adams and the Terriers are in the midst of an upswing on the national level.”

A question-and-answer document distributed by the athletic department to BU wrestlers, families and alumni explaining the decision called it “a strategic decision” that is the right move for the long-term direction of BU Athletics.

The Q&A also says the decision is neither solely money nor Title IX based. The school will not reinstate the program, even if funds are raised.

But that doesn’t mean the BU wrestling community isn’t trying.

News spread quickly, and by Tuesday evening there was a “Save BU Wrestling” fan page with more than 2,000 likes and an open group by the same name with almost 2,200 members.

Brad Castronovo, a 2012 BU graduate who was on the wrestling team, is helping spearhead the Save BU Wrestling movement. He thought it was an April Fools’ Day joke at first, but when he realized otherwise he “sprung to action and went after it.”

“The administration wants to take it away,” Castronovo said. “But we’re going to fight like hell to get it back.”

He said the school’s decision is a shame, as the wrestling team is among the most successful overall in terms of academics, community involvement and on-the-mat performance. The team has a 100 percent graduation rate, participates in most if not all of the community outreach projects organized by BU Athletics and, most recently, sent three wrestlers — junior Nestor Taffur, junior Kevin Innis and freshman Dane Harlowe — to the NCAA championships March 21-22.

The athletics department also has not done a great job promoting the team over the years, according to Castronovo.

“But we’re still succeeding, we’re not complaining, and we love what we’ve got,” he said.

Castronovo said the group will circulate petitions in the coming days so people — those that are a part of the BU community, the wrestling community or both — can demonstrate their support.

Another one of Castronovo’s concerns is Adams, who has been involved in the sport for more than half a century. Adams has collected 301 wins in his time at BU.

“It’s an absolute shame that this is how he is going out,” Castronovo said.

But Adams has been here before. In 1981, after his second season as head coach of the University of Rhode Island team, he was named New England Coach of the Year.

Then URI eliminated its varsity wrestling program.

“This is like a replay,” Adams said of BU’s decision. “But 32 years is a lot longer than two years. And I’m a lot older now, so it stings.

“Wrestling defines me. I’ll always be involved in wrestling. To what extent, who knows? But I’ll be teaching kids, I’ll be designing wrestling equipment. I’ll always be involved in wrestling till the day I die.”

33 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this we need all the help we can get

  2. Let’s get rid of the BU Athletics Director and who ever else that is part of the BU Aministration who voted for this short sighted decision.

  3. Poor decision and done in poor taste. Coach, wrestling is what you do. Your integrity, passion, humility and caring are what define you and why you are so well respected beyond just the wrestling community. You have successfully educated thousands of young men to be leaders. Thank You

  4. From a business standpoint- that is, making money, and from an athletic standpoint- which is, producing a national championship team. It is a solid decision. That being said it is terrible for the wrestlers, alumnus, and coaches to endure. However, welcome to the real world men. Life is not fair, and it certainly will blindside you. This is not the last time this will happen to you, or any of us. Why do we fall? So we can learn how to pick ourselves up again.

    -MTP

    • Very simplistic attitude to have when it’s not involving you. You definitely never wrestled.

    • Magnus, don’t tell wrestlers about picking themselves up in your real world. I am 52 years old and would love to have you on the mat for one minute. In that 1 minute you would surely learn what the make up of a wrestler is. What is you problem you couldn’t make the little league baseball team or did a wrestle kick your you know what? As for making money and the national champion BS, other than Hockey team what other sports teams at BU have won national championships in the last 30 years and have made money for that matter? You are an angry person and I know what you are.

  5. To: Mike Lynch-

    Please reevalute your decision to eliminate the sport of wrestling. This is short sighted and ill informed at its best. The core decisions on any sport from the AD’s office should always be to the benefit of the student body. This clearly is not. When you eliminate a sport you take away opportunity.

    Here’s your opportunity to adjust your thinking Mr. Lynch. It’s OK to admit your decision is wrong and ill advised. Please take this opportunity to right your ship in other ways.

    Thank you for listening, I do hope you are listening to me and to all concerned athletic fans.

    Sincerely, Scott Casber
    Takedown Wrestling Media
    [email protected]
    515-707-8657

  6. I think it’s an excellent decision to cut the program. While BU dumps millions of dollars into athletic programs and building new facilities, CFA and SED buildings are falling apart. Our programs are underfunded at best, and students regularly use equipment that the rest of the university retired years ago. Maybe, or clearly, I neither understand not appreciate the sports culture here at BU, however it seems like instead of using this money to support people working out and fighting each other, it could better be used to support the development of our future teachers and artists, people who have a real and lasting opportunity to improve our society and our culture.

    • Sounds like someone was bullied by athletes in high school.

      But seriously, the athletic fund and SED funding are completely separate entities. The money saved by dropping wrestling will be circulated around athletics. You want to improve SED or CFA? Donate.

      • I mean, i’m 6’2 and 275lbs, bullying wasn’t a thing for me…

        I’m not at all saying that CFA/SED students are on a “higher pedestal” than any other, but I expect us to be placed on the same level.

        • And absolutely nothing done by the wrestling program has any effect on CFA/SED students being on the same level as everyone else. You should be more concerned about the dollars being funneled into the LAW building renovations, the recently completed Bay State Road building, and the resources previously spent on Photonics and SMG if you want more money available for CFA/SED facilities and student resources, not whether the wrestling program exists.

        • 6’2″ 275lbs. You have never been an athlete have you? You especially have never wrestled. You are part of the reason this country has taken a down turn. You don’t know what its like to have to work hard and earn what you get. The wrestlers at BU have worked harder than you can conceive of. To have applauded the university for abandoning opportunity for others is a disgrace.

    • As a graduate of the School of Education and a Special Education Teacher for the past eleven years, I can honestly say I would have never even considered becoming an educator had it not been for my experience “fighting” in the great tradition of Boston University wrestling. The program has a had a very “real and lasting” influence on my development and my career. The money that went to our wrestling program will not be used for academics Graham, so cutting wrestling will not help academics in any way, shape, or form. Sports culture, and culture in general is the very reason humans get up in the morning. Without the arts and athletics we are a sad culture indeed.

    • While I am neither a student nor an alumnus of BU, I am a graduate of an arts program and a relative of a former BU wrestler, and while I certainly understand the concern for a lack of funding for teachers and artists I am also deeply offended by your suggestion that these men do not “have a real and lasting opportunity to improve our society and our culture”. While I don’t know much about the specifics of wrestling, I do know that this sport goes beyond “working out and fighting each other”. It takes perseverance, commitment, self-motivation, teamwork and discipline, qualities that are revered in athletes, teachers, artists, businessmen and women, and members of society in general. I also think that as an artist you should be sympathetic to the lack of support for the arts. That you would applaud the discontinuation of something that is so important to other people, although obviously not important to yourself, is deplorable. I can imagine you would feel just as offended and disheartened as the BU Wrestling team does, should the Arts program or Special Education program be the ones being cut. The young men of this team that I have had the opportunity to know are some of the most hard-working, kind, diligent, motivated people I have ever met.

    • Graham, 6’2″ 275 lbs just means your over weight. Sports haters like you are just people who could not make a sports team. In other words you were just too lazy to work hard at something other then reading books. Athletes can do both believe it or not. I don’t hate art and I don’t think developing teachers is a bad thing, but you have no idea what your talking about. That improving society thing you spoke of, well with the U.S. is almost $17,000,000,000,000 in debt and counting that should surely improve things for everyone. You should start a club “The Uninformed For Improving Society”. Good luck with that.

  7. Graham, dollars used to fund athletic programs are separate from those used to fund academic programs. Thus, taking money away from wrestling will not free up funds to build new CFA and SED buildings, etc., so the thrust of your point is 100% irrelevant to this discussion.

    You cannot simply say we should improve the facilities for the teachers and artists who will have a lasting opportunity to improve our society, and summarily write off athletic programs, while rivializing them with descriptions like “work out and fight each other,” or any other program at the university, as being worthy of funding. Never mind that the wrestling program affords opportunities for those students to compete, get an education, learn what it means to work to achieve a goal, and be successful. I’m sure the CFA and SED students are as worthy of funding as the wrestling team, but so are the COM students using 20 year old cameras, or the History students taking classes in rooms with broken windows and cracked blackboards. You’re placing a small group on a pedestal and saying they’re the ones who deserve funding MORE than another group – that is a terribly harmful attitude to have at a university, and would lead to a dangerous university environment where certain select groups are viewed as more worthy of funding than others.

    None of the wrestlers will make a professional career out of the sport, so for them, and few are on scholarship, so they’re paying their way and working their asses off simply to do something they love – our university should be fostering that pursuit, not removing it.

  8. Steve, Gregory, Erin, DtotheB,

    You guys are sounding very upset about a decision made for the greater good. While, yes, these boys have had their program cut, look at the LONG TERM decision made by Mike Lynch. He decided that it much more plausible to create a new championship team than to attempt to revive a lackluster program. Think of the rest of BU athletics who will benefit from this decision. Like a good CEO, Lynch made a hard decision that will pay huge dividends in the future.

    • Magnus, try taking a look at the actual results of the program. A 15 second look at the BU Wrestling page on goterriers.com will show you that the program has won 10 conference championships and had well over 100 athletes qualify for the NCAA tournament (individuals qualify, not teams as a whole.) I also believe we’ve sent someone to the NCAA tournament in nearly every one of the last 30 NCAA Tournaments. This is not like the football program when it was disbanded, a sub .500 program competing the second level of the sport. This is a program consistently performing well at the top of the sport. One of my roommates, a former wrestler, defeated both the number one and number three ranked wrestler in the country at the same meet just a few years back.

      This was not decision for the greater good. As evidenced by his statements that new funding would not bring back the program, this was a political and/or philosophical decision. They didn’t even use the usual Title IX excuse! The rest of BU Athletics will not be positively affected by this decision, wrestling was not a competitive drag on the overall competitive success of the department in any manner.

      To quote a wise man, get some facts, then come back and see me.

      • I am having trouble finding some national championships/ champions? Can you help?

        • So all programs that don’t have national championships should be disbanded? Well, that’ll leave us with one program.

          How about we get rid of all students who don’t have a 4.0 also? That’s essentially what you’re advocating.

          • Steve:

            WRONG. I think that we should get rid of the programs that have no future of winning a national championship and start a new program that has a higher chance of success. Come on, its a numbers game. Honorable facts about the wrestling team do not mean jack. BU Athletics had made the decision that BU wrestling is not worth their time. Don’t let everyone’s sob story cloud your vision.

          • To Magnus on this string (since I can’t reply directly for some reason).

            “We should get rid of the programs that have no future of winning a national championship and start a new program that has a higher chance of success”

            Under your logic, Boston U would have only one sport. College athletics aren’t about winning championships. You clearly don’t know that or anything closely related to the student-athlete experience.

            There’s 330+ NCAA Division I schools. The NCAA sponsors 89 TOTAL championships across Division I, II and III. There’d only be a few teams in existence if the sole reason was to win a championship.

            Rational thought is lost on Magnus. He clearly doesn’t understand the value (and money) these mostly-tuition paying students bring to BU and the experience they’ll take away from BU.

            So Magnus endorses a sports department at BU with one, maybe two sports? That’s a nice way to give yourself a campus community.

            You have no touch with what the reality of college sports are supposed to represent and no understanding of how winning is not the first value of college sports. It is for the SEC schools of the world, but not for allegedly student-first institutions like BU.

            I’d say you need to spend more time getting educated on the facts.

          • I think he’s also saying there’s no point in having honor in college athletics. BU has proven that, apparently.

    • So pissing on the tradition and history of a sport is for the greater good?

      None of this passes the sniff test. Bringing in lacrosse skewed the Title IX compliance numbers.
      So basically, the AD screws up the math and the student-athletes, who did nothing wrong and have a 100 percent graduation rate, they get cut in the deal.

      AD screws up numbers, students lose sport. AD doesn’t lose job for screwing up numbers, but students lose their opportunity and reason why they attended BU?

      The sniff test with the financial resources need to create a championship team will be much greater in lacrosse than they will be in wrestling.

      Boston University will regret this decision when it hemorrhages money trying to keep up with the lacrosse powers in the oversaturated Northeast.

      This decision isn’t for the greater good — it’s about laziness and poor economics and back-stabbing workplaces.

      Long Term? Yeah, good luck trying to get any donations from the numerous decades of wrestling alumni now making money in business. You think you can simply create an alumni giving base by starting up a new trendy sport?

      BU will lose on so many ways.

      • This Magnus person, well lets just say there are certain words to decribe him I can’t say on this forum. But I will say he is part of the 70% uninformed running around this country these days. Pay him no mind. Well said Jason!

        • Word on the street is that the reason that the wrestling team was cut was more than just fiscal and strategic… Many, MANY disciplinary problems have arisen from every class of young men. Multiple warnings given, and still problems happen… Sources from inside BU athletics have confirmed… I think that this is the true untold story.

  9. A lot of aspects of this upset me, but the worst is blindsiding Carl Adams, a guy who’s put his heart and soul into BU wrestling for decades, without any complaint about the lack of funding wrestling has gotten compared to other sports. He’s brought in terrific kids who all graduate, most of them with honors, because they know how to work towards a goal.Frankly, what they’ve learned from Carl is a better education than students get in most BU classrooms.

    If this is the way the administration treats Carl Adams and the wrestlers, I’m done supporting BU. Under Bob Brown, this has become an utterly classless university.

    • Classless? Welcome to the real world buddy. Bob Brown makes big picture decisions that produce results. And you wonder why he’s still here? HE CREATES POSITIVE RESULTS

  10. The question that should be asked is “What is the criteria that was used to assess the dropping of wrestling as a varsity sport?” And “We’re all sports evaluated?” The best thing for BU Wrestling to do is take a process driven strategy and ask those questions. If they are not happy with those answers they should take it to the University Ombudsman if there is one. It doesn’t seem reasonable that wrestling would be dropped – it is one of the best sports programs there. Also the real decision makers are the students. It is important to get the UGrad and Grad Student Union involved and lobbying Board and the President. There is little sense lobbying Athletics because they have made their decision and they may not pass on the outpouring of support.

  11. It is not surprising that BU pulled another classless act. FOOTBALL; Baseball; hello! Just get a statue of the best wrestler or coach adams and erect it at the new field hockey facility! That will make Lynch & the liberal BU administrative dogooders feel better. They took Harry Agganis, most known for Football and Baseball, and erected him in front of the Hockey arena in his football uniform. BUs problem is that they have nobody in the administration that is well educated AND played, coached and/or worked in a successful division 1 program that has passion for football, baseball or wrestling; nor consideration for those that have been with BU longer than them. The AD is weak & simply more concerned with maintaining his salary. For what he gets paid there should be more succesful programs. Which did he directly influence? Most leaders find roads to success and not reasons to quit! Lynch is not a leader; not from any succesful program and simply more concerned with boasting about some $23 million project. Homecoming will be very fun watching field Hockey with 100 fans Mike! If you were at any ivy league school or even a school like Colgate you would’ve been gone years ago! Oh by the way, I believe they achieve academic success as well as success in male sports and female sports more so than you could claim. Being an AD is simple, dont worry about finding a road to success understanding how that improves donations and increasing those interested in coming to BU just learn to kiss butt, market some so called success story (in you world) and become the liberal ax-man. The manner in which you handled this issue with the obvious disrespect to Coach Adams is just another example of your character.

  12. Pity for the kids who were looking forward to that program. Wrestling is definitely good for them, it’s beneficial. I’m glad I enrolled my kids in the sport. It’s really helping them build confidence.

  13. One of the reasons our educational system is falling into the crapper is because the trend in the last 40 years is to run educational institutions like “a good CEO”. Some value can not be measured in dollars and sense. A student’s experience at any school should be measured in the growth of the individuals attending that institution. I wrestled in school. I wasn’t very good either, but the discipline I learned at those practices and in the matches has stayed with me to this day. I’m a college professor now and one that teaches the arts. Don’t go blaming funding for the arts for this guys short-sightedness. Blame the administrators and CEO types that are ruining our school. The president at my school makes almost a million dollars a year, the provost, 250K and the board of trustees are all millionaires. We expect these people to run our schools like teachers and coaches? They would never work for that kind of money. I expect nothing from this guy than what he’s giving. He doesn’t belong within spitting distance of an institution of higher learning. He’s not interested in education or life experience. He’s interested in money and nothing else.