Wrestling could be coming back to Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif.

With thousands of wrestlers in California and some of the top talent in the state right here in the Valley, those in the wrestling community call it a "no brainer." They say Fresno State is a perfect fit for bringing the sport back because of its proximity, price of tuition and its ability to attract nationally-ranked teams to compete.

Bringing wrestling back to Fresno State may no longer be up in the air. After years of protests following the last match at Fresno State back in 2005, President Dr. Joseph Castro announced on Friday that he's serious about the possible return of the sport, saying in a written statement to Action News: "It is my desire to return wrestling as a team sport at Fresno State. In order to gain the information needed to move forward with this, I have initiated a sports programming review to be conducted by nationally recognized consultant Todd Turner."

A consultant -- we found out -- with Collegiate Sports Associates in North Carolina with more than 30 years of experience working with the NCAA.

The announcement has excited the wrestling community up and down the Valley, including former Fresno State head coach Dennis DeLiddo, who's been fighting for its return for nearly a decade.

"I get asked every day about wrestling, and there's parents who want their kids to stay at home so they can wrestle, and the mission of the university is supposed to be serve your community, so what better way to serve your community than to have wrestling at Fresno State?" said DeLiddo. "It's a natural. They should've never dropped it; it's crazy."

He says wrestling would be a big money-maker for the college. It's a sport that Clovis High head coach Stephen Tirapelle agreed could draw hundreds of athletes to the program from right here in the Valley.

"Fresno State for anyone that's local within 30 to 45 minutes is really about the most realistic option available to people in the Central Valley, and our Central Valley is a hotbed for wrestling," said Tirapelle.

And one high school wrestler Action News talked with said if Fresno State was an option, he'd consider going there.

"I think they should definitely bring it back. I mean there's a lot of local wrestlers here from California that would just love to stay close to their family," said Clovis High wrestler Isaiah Hokit.

Turner will be paid $35,000 to complete the analysis by late May. It will then be reviewed by President Castro, the athletic director and Fresno State's legal advisors before considering the next steps.

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