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Buffalo State women’s wrestling program in jeopardy before first match

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The new women’s wrestling program at Buffalo State University could be in trouble before it has even had its first match.

The program, which was first announced in 2022, is scheduled to begin in the 2024-25 school year. Head coach Steve Hart and assistant coach Kellen Devlin were both let go last week just four months before the season begins.

Hart said that the school’s administration offered him a one-year contract and informed him a financial assessment was going to be done on the athletic department. Hart said he did not take the contract because he is already an employee within the SUNY system and wanted to stick to their original plan, which was working as a volunteer for another year.

Days later, both were let go.

The coaches had brought in 24 student-athletes and $20,000 in scholarship dollars.

“I was the head coach on nights, weekends, holiday time, any kind of vacation time I used to help recruit and build this program,” Hart said.

The school is known to be under financial stress. In May, Buffalo State announced that 37 low-performing academic programs were being eliminated. However, no sports have been eliminated.

“I suspect this is their way of terminating the program without getting their hands dirty,” Devlin said. “They know we are building blocks, and to pull us out with about 28 days notice from when these girls are expected to arrive on campus.”

There is no schedule and no roster listed for the team on Buffalo State’s athletics website.

Women’s wrestling is not currently sanctioned by the NCAA, but it is on its way to be. In February, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics officially recommended that Divisions I, II, and III sponsor a national championship. The divisions are expected to vote on the proposals at the NCAA Convention in January 2025 for the first national championship to be held in winter 2026.

This story was first reported by WNY Athletics.

WIVB News 4 has reached out to Buffalo State for comment, but has not yet heard back.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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