Liberty University and Director of Athletics Jeff Barber announced today the reclassification of the sport of wresting from NCAA Division I status to a club program, effective immediately.
The University has a legal obligation to comply with federal law relating to gender equity. Although the law allows for three methods to meet its requirements, the University has chosen proportionality as its preferred method.
While the University has added three new women's athletics programs (women's lacrosse in 2009, women's swimming in 2010 and field hockey in 2011), these additions alone are not enough to enable the University to meet proportionality.
As such, the University was left with two options: either to continue to add NCAA Division I women's athletics programs or adjust their current NCAA Division I men's participation opportunities.
"This decision is very painful for the entire Liberty University community, as we all understand that this change affects not only the lives of many individuals but also their families" stated Barber. "Words cannot express my appreciation to Jesse Castro, Joe Pantaleo, our current wrestling student-athletes and all those that have invested their lives in the Liberty wrestling program through the years."
"This decision will never take away from the accomplishments of our current wrestlers, nor those who helped establish the program during the early years of the University" added Barber. "Liberty wrestling was part of a core group of programs that helped launch the Liberty University Athletics Department. This program's success will always be a vital part of our history and will never be forgotten."
Liberty University will honor its scholarship commitments to all current wrestling student-athletes and signees.
The Liberty University club sport program is an integral part of the student body experience. The University currently offers 11 men's club sport programs and nine women's club sport programs.