April 3 (UPI) -- Old Dominion University has eliminated its wrestling program after a 63-year run, citing the coronavirus pandemic's impact on their athletic program's budget.
The school announced the move Thursday. Old Dominion expects to save $1 million after completely eliminating the sport from its athletic program. Old Dominion has sponsored wrestling since 1957. Women's volleyball will be introduced into the Monarchs' athletic program this fall.
Currently enrolled wrestling student-athletes will keep their scholarships through the completion of their fourth academic year if they remain at the school. Wrestling student-athletes are immediately eligible to transfer to another school. Incoming students who signed national letters of intent to attend the school for the 2020-2021 year will keep their scholarships for the upcoming year if they enroll at the school.
"We are saddened to have to make this decision, but it's one that was made with the long-term best interest of the athletics program in mind," Old Dominion athletic director Camden Wood Selig said. "No one wants to reduce opportunities for young men to compete and represent Old Dominion, but we are required to be responsible with departmental resources.
"Our decision became even more clear during this coronavirus crisis, which we know will have significant impact on future athletics budgets. This decision will better allow the remaining sports to compete at a national level."
There are 32 students in the wrestling program, including seven seniors. The school decided to eliminate wrestling after a six-month study into the athletic program conducted by an outside consultant.
Steve Martin has been the Monarchs' wrestling coach for the last 16 seasons. He will remain on staff to assist currently enrolled students and signed recruits with the transition.
"I care a great deal about the student-athletes and coaches in the wrestling program at ODU, and I'm committed to work with each one of them to assist them during this transition," Martin said.
"I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish over my tenure in the wrestling program, on the mat, but more importantly, off the mat as we were able to use the sport of wrestling to propel many young men into distinguished professional careers."
The Monarchs last competed at the March 7 and 8 Mid-American Conference championships. The NCAA canceled the NCAA Division I wrestling championships on March 12 when it canceled all winter sport championships. The Monarchs had four wrestlers qualified for the wrestling championships.
Sa'Derian Perry was one of the qualified wrestlers. The redshirt senior transferred to Old Dominion two years ago from Eastern Michigan when that school also eliminated wrestling from its athletic program.
"Imagine being a Division I athlete," Perry tweeted Thursday. "The university cuts your program. Transfer, repeat and you'll know how I feel."
The NCAA announced March 27 that it will distribute less than half of the $600 million it planned to give to Division I schools after the cancellation of its basketball tournaments and other sports championships amid the coronavirus pandemic. College sports' governing body will distribute $225 million to the schools in June. The NCAA receives most of its revenue from Division I men's basketball championships TV and marketing rights and ticket sales.