UFV wrestling program suspends operations

Team model scrapped, individual athletes will still be supported by the school

The University of the Fraser Valley Athletics and Recreation has suspended operations of its wrestling program for the 2019-20 season.

The school made the announcement during a meeting on Wednesday afternoon , stating that individual wrestlers will continue to be supported by the university if the wrestlers decide to purse eligibility in Canada West and U Sports competition. They are also free to transfer to other wrestling programs.

Athletes were informed of these options and eligibility criteria via a team meeting and via a letter sent to those athletes who did not attend the meeting.

Suspension of the team includes the removal of athletic therapy, strength and conditioning services, athletic scholarship or tuition waivers, complimentary fitness centre access, early class registration and discounted parking at the school.

Wrestlers who wish to continue representing UFV must also pay for their own entry costs to any tournaments and all travel fees. They must also meet all academic requirements to ensure eligibility.

Athletes were sent complete details of all the requirements in an e-mail on Wednesday.

One of the eligibility requirements sent in the e-mail to athletes stated that the pursuit of any funding or sponsorships can not include Mid Valley Wrestling Club, an Abbotsford-based athletics club, or any sponsors or donors currently associated with UFV.

The requirement including no funding and sponsorships with MVWC was then removed, with the school now stating that they strongly recommend that wrestlers use other sources.

“The purpose of the clause in the letter is to ensure other sources of funding, in addition to Mid Valley, might be sought out and that the athletes do not inundate just one source that has limited funds,” stated Dave Pinton, the director of communications for UFV. “Previously, athletes have independently approached Mid Valley for additional financial support, often as the only source they approach. Mid Valley has obliged these requests and often helped where possible.”

He added that UFV Athletics would not decline a wrestler eligibility if they sourced funding from Mid Valley, but that they are recommending they diversify their search to include others. Pinton also said that UFV Athletics is grateful for the support Mid Valley has provided in the past.

The original statement on the program’s suspension released by the school, which can be found on the Cascades website, stated: “Various stakeholders, including several wrestlers and community coaches, have privately and publicly expressed different visions and expectations for the UFV program. These approaches do not all align philosophically or practically with the university’s vision for a varsity wrestling team. For wrestling to be a successful varsity program in the future, we need to explore and evaluate all potential models rather than rushing to decisions.”

“Suspending the program for the 2019-20 season acknowledges the challenges athletes, community coaches, and the university have experienced within the existing wrestling model,” Steve Tuckwood, director of athletics and recreation at UFV told the website. “Moving to an individual model is a compromise aimed at supporting athletes and maintaining wrestling in a modified form at UFV.”

The suspension of the team’s operations comes less than three weeks after The News reported on Cascades wrestlers unhappiness with the coaching situation with the team.

Program founder Raj Virdi and the school parted ways in November, with his assistant coach Gurjot Kooner leaving about a month later.

Facilities coordinator and former national wrestling champion Stacie Anaka then took over as head coach on an interim basis for several months, but then stepped down at the end of the season.

For more on the team, visit gocascades.ca.

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