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Fresno State president expects to announce wrestling's return later this fall

Fresno State president Joseph Castro
Fresno State president Joseph Castro
Photo courtesy California State University, Fresno, used with permission

Joseph Castro, president of Fresno State University, again pledged to bring back wrestling to the school, saying he expects to announce the sport’s return this fall after other matters have been settled, the “Fresno Bee” reported Tuesday.

"It's no longer a question of whether (wrestling will return)," Castro said at an editorial board meeting at the California newspaper. "That decision was made on my 100th day when I said we were going to do it. ... I expect to make an announcement later this fall."

"I want to stop saying we're going to do (reinstate wrestling) without giving people a timeline," Castro said. "I think we'll be ready to do that by later this fall."

Castro also said that he expects to name a new athletic director before the end of the year, adding that the timeline to reinstate wrestling, along with the addition of at least one new women's sport, is independent of Fresno State's AD search. According to the “Bee”, an announcement regarding wrestling’s return would be expected to come before hiring the athletic director.

However, those agenda items must wait until the women's soccer/lacrosse field east of Bulldog Stadium is completed, Castro told the “Bee”. That project, the final requirement of Fresno State's decade-long review with the Office of Civil Rights to rectify gender-equity issues going back more than two decades, is expected to be completed in October.

Restoring the wrestling program at Fresno State has been a subject Castro has addressed a number of times. In a November 2013 press conference marking his 100th day as president, Castro first mentioned his plans to review all the school’s sports programs, including soccer and wrestling which had been eliminated in 2006, saying, "I think there is a compelling case that's being made for wrestling."

In February 2014, Castro was the special guest of honor at a dual meet featuring two top California high school programs, where he again mentioned bringing back wrestling at Fresno. “I'm really intent on reinstating it,” Castro told the crowd at the Clovis vs. Buchanan dual. "There are a number of issues to work on internally and with the community to make it happen." Then, the following month, Castro announced the hiring of national intercollegiate sports consultant Todd Turner to review all Fresno State sports programs. Turner’s report has been completed and is now being reviewed, Castro told the “Bee” editorial board on Tuesday.

The wrestling program at Fresno State produced 33 NCAA All-Americans. Arguably the most accomplished wrestler to compete for the Bulldogs is Stephen Abas, a three-time NCAA champ (1999, 2000-01) who went on to win a silver medal in freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The school officially known as California State University, Fresno was founded in 1911. This public, four-year university located in central California has an enrollment of approximately 20,000 students, according to the school’s website. Fresno State’s sports teams, the Bulldogs, compete in NCAA Division I.