Last week we wrote about NOC’s push to raise funds to reinstate their wrestling program which has not been around since 1983. With that, I thought I’d take a look at five reasons the school should consider adding a wrestling program.
In almost every industry, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And that certainly applies to colleges and universities. We’re seeing online options and the larger state schools take over, and small schools struggling to gain a foothold with students.
One way to combat that? Give them sports to play. Some kids that may have limited options when it comes to competing in college sports, will be much more likely to go to a smaller college, or potentially even go to college at all if the opportunity to play a sport is available. And there are very few opportunities for athletes to continue wrestling within the state of Oklahoma after high school. So if you want to quickly add 30 students to your enrollment(over 1% of the total student population at NOC) start a women’s and men’s wrestling program.
When you look at college wrestling compared to sports like Division One Football. it’s not what anyone would call a “revenue sport” in the traditional sense. But if you frame it the right way, it is, and it actually is more than a lot of sports. At the D1 level, there is a lot of red tape and numerous other factors that hold wrestling back from having any real chance to become a true revenue stream for a large school. But in smaller schools, it’s different. As mentioned above, you add about 30 students that would likely either be wrestling somewhere else, simply attending college somewhere else, or not in college at all. That means more students paying tuition at your school, more kids paying room and board, more kids shopping at your campus stores, more federal and state funding from each student attending the school, and on and on.
And again, even though it’s not anywhere near the same traditional revenue you see at larger colleges, you also gain ticket sales, merchandise, fundraising that is done by the program via donations and other avenues, concessions, etc… Though it’s not quite the booming revenue of a large athletic department, all of those things combined offset most of the costs of travel, a coaching staff, and many of the other items associated with a college wrestling program.
Ten years ago I would say this isn’t really a “sell” for any college program in Oklahoma. That has dramatically shifted in recent years though. Outside of the national tournament, a Junior College could almost completely develop a schedule within driving distance. Home and home duals with NEO, Carl Albert State, and Cowley would create perfect local rivalries. You could even step up and schedule Newman, Friends, OCU, Oklahoma Wesleyan, and others periodically. You could attend, and even host, local tournaments featuring all of those teams. Plus Kansas has an incredible group of small wrestling colleges that would also be easy to schedule and travel to. This makes budgeting and many other things a lot easier on a program.
We saw Carl Albert State in the second year of their men’s program and first of their women’s crown a National Champion on each side along with a few additional All-Americans. With NJCAA women’s wrestling still early in its existence and growing fast and this is the time to strike and win. With the right staff and people, NOC could crown All-Americans and maybe even more in very short order.
5. Wrestling Community
The North Central part of Oklahoma will likely always be dominated by Oklahoma State when it comes to wrestling fandom, but there’s a foothold to be gained in this region if NOC adds a wrestling program. Within about thirty minutes of Tonkawa in a few different directions, you have some of the most historic wrestling towns in Oklahoma. Blackwell, Perry, and Ponca City all have some incredible wrestling history and with that history brings people who like wrestling and want to watch and support wrestling. It’s not going to sell out the venue week in and week out, but the community in this area will attend and come together to support this team. I have no doubts about that.