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Heskett leaves Army head coaching job for West Virginia associate AD position

Joe Heskett as Iowa State wrestler, head wrestling coach at Army
Joe Heskett as Iowa State wrestler, head wrestling coach at ArmyPhoto courtesy of WrestlingsBest.com and Army wrestling, used with permission

Joe Heskett, head wrestling coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for four years, will become the new associate athletic director for sports performance at West Virginia University, the Army coach disclosed in an interview with College Wrestling Examiner Tuesday.

Heskett, a 2002 NCAA champ for Iowa State who served as an assistant coach at Cal Poly and Ohio State, will assume the newly-created position with the Mountaineers on July 25.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I have always dreamed of becoming an athletic department administrator,” said Heskett. “This position at West Virginia is an exciting opportunity which presented itself.”

With the new position, Heskett will have oversight in a number of areas regarding student-athlete performance, including oversight of the Athletic Training unit and the Strength and Conditioning unit; serve as department liaison to WELLWVU, the Student Center of Health within the Division of Student Affairs; assist senior-level administrators in securing, directing and managing post-season championships and special events; and assist the Associate Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services & Outreach Coordinator in the administration of Student-Athlete Life Enhancement program. He will report to West Virginia University Director of Athletics, Oliver Luck.

“This is a vision of Mr. Luck, who thought my experience, education and background would be applicable for the school’s athletic program,” said Heskett, who earned his bachelor’s in Speech Communications from Iowa State in 2002, and a master’s degree with honors in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Athletic Administration at Cal Poly in 2006.

“Wrestling has presented me with so much opportunity,” said Heskett. “I’ve been directly involved in wrestling all my life, and I will continue to give to the sport. I will add an administrative angle to my resume, which can help in the vision and continued growth of our sport.”

“I think it’s a positive for the sport of wrestling to have someone from the wrestling ranks to move into an athletic director career,” Heskett continued. “Wrestlers have a unique mentality that embraces adversity and we strive for greatness. The value of this mentality is not limited to wrestling, but it can positively impact entire institutions. I hope that more wrestlers follow the administrative route.”

Heskett was very complimentary of both his previous and future employers.

“My four years at West Point have been an absolute blessing,” said Heskett. “It’s a wonderful place for individuals to grow and develop in every way.”

“I want to thank the administrators, officer-representatives, coaches and student-athletes for all they’ve done while I’ve been at West Point,” Heskett continued. “We’ve done some really great things. Personally, it was exciting for us to beat Iowa State. It’s also gratifying to have a recruiting class ranked in the Top 25, which had never been done prior. I believe the table is set for whoever takes the position as head coach.”

“Having been around great leadership for the past four years, I recognize and appreciate the great leadership I see at West Virginia.”

“I look forward to working with West Virginia University president Gordon Gee, who was president at Ohio State when I was on the Buckeye coaching staff,” said Heskett.

“I want to give special thanks to Oliver Luck, who is a pioneer and true leader within the industry. To learn under Mr. Luck is a unique opportunity. I would also like to thank Keli Cunningham (Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director) and Terri Howes (Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration), for their leadership and commitment to greatness.”

In describing his move from the coaching ranks to an administrator, Joe Heskett told Takedown Wrestling's Scott Casber in a video interview Tuesday, "As a coach. there's only so much I can accomplish. We really need to have someone with insights and experience in an administrative role to get things done. One of my long-term goals is to continue to improve and impact the sport in a positive way."

Heskett’s resume as wrestler and coach is one of impressive accomplishments.

Wrestling for legendary head coach Bobby Douglas at Iowa State, Heskett was a four-time NCAA All-American (1999-2002), three-time Big 12 conference champ (1999, 2001, 2002), and three-time titlewinner (1998, 2000, 2001) at the prestigious Midlands Classic post-Christmas tournament. The culmination of his collegiate career saw Heskett win the 165-pound title at the 2002 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The Akron native concluded his Cyclones career with an overall record of 143-9, placing him third on Iowa State’s all-time wins list.

Heskett launched his coaching career at Cal Poly, where he was the head assistant wrestling coach involved in all facets of the program, including fundraising. In 2006, Heskett came to Ohio State, starting first as a volunteer assistant, then promoted to full-time assistant in 2008 before taking the helm at West Point in 2010.

Throughout his career, Heskett has demonstrated a passion for leadership. He was Iowa State's representative at the NCAA Leadership Conference, a board member of the Children's Body Image, a former member of the Major Ray Mendoza Leadership Fund and an Ambassador and Public Awareness Speaker for the Ohio State Medical Center. He is the founder and Chief Visionary Officer for h Leadership (founded in 2009), a visionary leadership company dedicated revolutionizing sport through leadership and life skill education.

With Heskett's departure from the head coaching position at West Point, Army has announced that assistant coach Paul Young has been named interim head coach Tuesday.