Donny Pritzlaff, two-time NCAA champion wrestler at University of Wisconsin who has coached at his alma mater, Hofstra University and University of Michigan, will now be associate head coach at Rutgers University, the New Jersey school announced Friday.
The former Big Ten wrestler and coach will help Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in its transition to the Big Ten effective this July. Among the Scarlet Knights’ first mat opponents in its new conference for the 2014-15 season: Penn State, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.
“I feel like I can make a big difference here and I’m excited to get to work and start developing relationships with guys on the team and the whole athletic department,” Pritzlaff said. “I think I felt drawn to Rutgers being in the Big Ten. I wrestled in the Big Ten and coached in the Big Ten Conference for many years.”
Pritzlaff’s new boss, Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale, echoed that sentiment.
“I believe that this is one of the best coaches in the country and a hire that can change the landscape of this wrestling program,” said Goodale. “Donny has years of Big Ten experience as an athlete, coach and recruiter. He is regarded as one of the best recruiters in the country and will certainly make an impact immediately as we enter the Big Ten.”
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Pritzlaff, who is originally from Lyndhurst, N.J.
“I’ve always felt pride in the state of New Jersey,” continued Pritzlaff. “I tried to get out here and recruit as much as I could when I was away. I feel really close to the kids that come out of the state and this area. It’s going to be a great situation for everyone”
Pritzlaff brings impressive on-the-mat and coaching credentials to Rutgers. A three-time New Jersey high school state champ at Lyndhurst, Pritzlaff headed west to Wisconsin, where he was a three-time Big Ten conference champ, four-time NCAA All-American, and two-time NCAA champ at 165 pounds in 2000 and 2001. In addition, Pritzlaff found success in freestyle competition at 74 kilos/163 pounds, earning medals at the 2006 World Championships, the Pan-Am Games, the Dave Schultz Memorial Invitational, and other major international events.
Pritzlaff launched his coaching career at Wisconsin as a volunteer assistant in 2002, then headed to Hofstra where he served as an assistant coach from 2004-06. He then returned to Wisconsin as an assistant, then associate head coach from 2006 through 2011… only to move to Big Ten rival Michigan, where he has been on the Wolverine coaching staff for the past three seasons.
Rutgers can trace its roots back to 1766, when it was founded as Queens College. It later became a state university, named for an early benefactor. The New Jersey-based school can claim a total enrollment of nearly 58,000 students at three campuses.