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West Virginia University fails to renew Craig Turnbull’s contract after 36 years

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For the first time since the Carter administration and the disco era, Craig Turnbull will not be at the helm of the West Virginia University wrestling program.

Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck announced Friday that coach Turnbull’s contract will not be renewed for next season.

“Craig has spent the last 36 years as the head of the Mountaineer wrestling program, and we appreciate his many years of service to West Virginia University,” Luck said. “He took over at the helm of the WVU wrestling program in 1979 after serving as an assistant coach here under Fred Liechti, coaching hundreds of Mountaineer wrestlers along the way. We wish him the best.”

The school has already launched a nationwide search for a new wrestling coach.

In more than three-and-a-half decades as head mat coach at West Virginia, Turnbull guided the Mountaineers to a 287-214-9 career record. This season, WVU posted an 11-7 overall record and a 0-3 mark in their second season in the Big 12. At the 2014 Big 12 Conference Championships three weeks ago, West Virginia placed last among the four schools with wrestling programs, with no individual champions, and only one finalist: A.J. Vizcarrondo at heavyweight.

The Mountaineers came to the Big 12 in 2012, essentially replacing University of Missouri, whose wrestling program is now in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Prior to the move to the Big 12, West Virginia had been in the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL).

A four-time EWL Coach of Year, Turnbull had coached three wrestlers to a total of five individual national titles: Greg Jones (2002, 2004, 2005), Dean Morrison (1994), and Scott Collins (1991).

In addition, Turnbull coached 26 of the program’s 29 NCAA All-Americans, 42 EWL champions and more than 160 NCAA Championships qualifiers.

What’s more, Turnbull guided the Mountaineers to six EWL conference titles as well as 12 top-25 finishes at the NCAA Championships.

Prior to launching his coaching career, Turnbull was a 1973 NCAA 126-pound All-American at Clarion University, where he crafted a career record of 87-14-2.

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