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Ex-Hofstra wrestler Dennis Papadatos returns to become Pride head coach

Tar Heel wrestling assistant becomes Pride head coach: Dennis Papadatos, now at the helm at Hofstra
Tar Heel wrestling assistant becomes Pride head coach: Dennis Papadatos, now at the helm at Hofstra
Photo courtesy of University of North Carolina, logo from Hofstra University, both with permission

It's official: Dennis Papadatos, a two-time NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships qualifier at Hofstra University, is returning to his college alma mater to become the head coach of the Pride, the Long Island school announced Monday.

At least two amateur wrestling websites -- TheOpenMat.com, and TheMat.com -- had broken the story Friday, based on a tweet at the Hofstra wrestling Twitter account.

It’s a homecoming for Papadatos, a native of Long Island, N.Y. He replaces former Hofstra teammate Rob Anspach, who announced his resignation in June to accept a commercial sales representative position with Advantage Sport & Fitness. Anspach had spent nearly two decades at Hofstra, including five seasons as a wrestler, then as a member of the coaching staff for the past dozen years, the last three as head coach.

Papadatos brings more than a decade of collegiate coaching experience, from a geographically diverse set of programs. For the past two seasons, Papadatos has served as an assistant coach at University of North Carolina, primarily working with upper-weight Tar Heel wrestlers.

Prior to going to Carolina, Papadatos spent five years at Binghamton University in upstate New York. At BU he helped produce 16 NCAA individual qualifiers and a pair of All-Americans. Binghamton sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in back-to-back years during his final two years before Papadatos stepped away from coaching following the 2010-11 season.

Before Binghamton, Papadatos was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois University outside Chicago. He was on staff at the Mid-American Conference school during the 2005-06 season.

Papadatos launched his coaching career at Hofstra, where he spent three seasons working as an assistant coach after graduating in 2000.

As a Pride wrestler, Papadatos was a four-year starter, tallying 97 career victories for then head coach Tom Ryan (now at the helm at Ohio State). He was a two-time qualifier for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at 157 pounds. Papadatos was also a three-time member of the Division I Academic All-America wrestling team (1999-2001).

“This is an exciting time for the Hofstra Wrestling program,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway. “From my initial meeting with Dennis I could see the tremendous passion he has for Hofstra University and our wrestling program. Hofstra Wrestling has experienced great success in its history and Dennis has played a role in that both as a student-athlete and as a staff member. His belief in developing well-rounded student-athletes who succeed in the classroom, on the mat and in the community made him the perfect choice to lead our program. Dennis' tireless efforts have enhanced every program that he has worked with during his journey resulting in him becoming our new head coach. Dennis is a native Long Islander who understands what it will take to be successful at Hofstra on a local, regional and national level. On behalf of the entire Hofstra University community I am thrilled to welcome Dennis, Angela and their three children to our family.”

Tom Ryan, who coached Papadatos at Hofstra, said this about his former wrestler who is now taking the reins of the Pride mat program, “Hofstra is a place where I was nurtured and grew as a coach… I am proud of the decision Hofstra made in the hiring of Dennis Papadatos. Dennis is the perfect hire as the head wrestling coach. He was a tremendous example as a student-athlete. His past speaks volumes about the passion and energy he will bring to Hofstra wrestling. I'm excited about the future of the program. Dennis will continue to move the program forward.”

"I would like to thank Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz and Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Hathaway for their trust in me to lead my alma mater and this outstanding wrestling program,” said Papadatos. “Words cannot describe my emotions and my passion for this University. It is home in so many ways and I feel blessed to be a part of it again. I want the Hofstra faithful to know that I will work relentlessly to have this program succeed at the highest level in every aspect and our student-athletes will strive for greatness in everything they do, both on the mat and in the classroom. We will focus and work on building great individuals, who will be fantastic role models, citizens and alumni. I am thankful for my support network that has made this possible, and I am so excited that I can bring my wife and kids home! Go Pride!"