CALL TO ACTION Georgia citizens asked to write Governor Perdue to support college varsity wrestling in the state

By Gary Abbott | Aug. 20, 2006, 7:07 p.m. (ET)
The Georgia Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (GIWA), a group of citizen leaders working to establish a varsity college wrestling program in Georgia, is asking citizens of the state to contact Governor Sonny Perdue.

There are currently no college varsity wrestling programs in Georgia, and Governor Perdue has agreed to consider the proposals of the state's wrestling community concerning this issue.

"We are asking Georgia voters to send a short note, thanking the governor for showing interest in the campaign for collegiate wrestling in Georgia," said Alan Leet, a member of the GIWA Steering Committee. "It is about people weighing in, so that he gets a good number of letters. When folks send a note, we can signal to him that this is meaningful to many people across the state. We want to let him know that it has grassroots support all over the state.

The GIWA has issued the following call to action for all Georgia citizens, especially those active in the wrestling community:
Click here to read the Call to Action from Georgia's wrestling leaders

The GIWA has delivered a letter to Governor Perdue, as well as detailed information about wrestling in Georgia and why the state should create a varsity college wrestling program for its citizens.

Click here to read letter to Governor Perdue

Everybody in the state is being asked to send a letter to Governor Perdue at the following address:

The Honorable Sonnny Perdue
Office of the Governor
State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

One of the leaders of the GIWA, Susan Knox, a wrestling mom from Dublin, Ga. who is active in the state political scene, has spoken to the governor many times about the campaign to create a college team in Georgia. Through Knox's effort, Governor Perdue has agreed to review the proposal from the GIWA and consider the request presented by the state's wrestling community.

"Whenever he sees Susan, he says, 'here comes that wrestling lady,'" said Leet, "The governor seems genuinely interested in learning more about it. This is a great first step."

The GIWA has created a wealth of information giving detailed facts about wrestling in Georgia, as well as a compelling argument why a program would serve the citizens of the state.

"The facts are compelling and the presentation materials lay it out," said Leet. "We have used this material in meetings with college administrators.

Click here to read "The Case for Reinstating Intercollegiate Wrestling in Georgia

Click here to see powerpoint presentation prepared by the GIWA

Click here to see GIWA presentation as a pdf file

The effort to create a Georgia college varsity wrestling was started about two years ago, when a number of leaders asked Georgia Tech University to add a wrestling team. Georgia Tech is among the programs that dropped the sport a few decades ago. The makeup of the school's athletic department would allow for the creation of more men's sports opportunities at Georgia Tech. It could be argued that Georgia Tech is not in compliance with Title IX, because it offers more opportunity to women athletes than the gender makeup of the overall student population.

"We started in the summer of 2004, focusing on the Georgia Tech program," said Alan Leet. "About a year ago, we decided to broaden our focus and put together a campaign for Georgia college wrestling."

An important part of the focus of the campaign is that Georgia wrestlers who wish to compete in college can not participate in the Hope Scholarship program. This outstanding program, funded by the state lottery, provides free tuition to students who achieve a B+ average in high school, attend a state college in Georgia, and maintain that level of academic success while in college.

Leet, the parent of a college wrestler who left Georgia to compete, understands this situation first-hand.

"The Hope Scholarship is a fantastic deal for in-state students. Without a Georgia college wrestling program, wrestlers from Georgia are losing the in-state tuition break and are paying out of state tuition at their college. This just does not work for many families. For kids who are capable of doing this, it offers a difficult decision. For many, there is no option, and they can not wrestle in college," said Leet.

Focusing on Governor Perdue is part of the overall strategy for bringing a college program back to Georgia as soon as possible.

"We are not asking him anything yet. We are trying to make a friend," said Leet. "We want his support, his suggestions and his influence. We expect to go back with a specific request later. He can help us in the future. If we need to push this project over the finish line, and we have the governor's support, he might be able to help us."