They are now the only HBCU to offer division 1 wrestling!
Morgan State University (MSU) just received the largest private donation in the school’s history to help revive its wrestling program, Black Enterprise reports.
The HBCU has a rich wrestling history, with MSU dominating the world of college wrestling in the 1960s and winning Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) titles in 1963, 1964, and 1965. Under the leadership of coach James Phillips, the Bears continued their winning streak from 1976 to 1996, winning 13 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles and the 1984 Eastern Wrestling Regional Championship. Phillips was also named MEAC coach of the year 12 times during his tenure.
The program produced four national champions and more than 75 All-American wrestlers, yet ended due to funding issues after the 1996-1997 season. Now, after nearly a quarter-century hiatus, the University has announced the return of its Division 1 wrestling program, following a $2.7 million donation to the school’s Athletics Department. The donation, courtesy of HBCU Wrestling, is part of a new initiative to re-establish wrestling programs at historically Black colleges and universities, partnering with billionaire and former hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz.
The donation is the largest the school has ever received from a private donor. The University will team up with Beat The Streets, a Baltimore-based non-profit which runs after-school wrestling programs in the city and fund nine full scholarships annually.
“The purpose behind this donation is to create access and equity which will serve to further diversify the sport of wrestling by providing opportunities for student-athletes that do not currently exist. We are extremely grateful to Mike Novogratz and HBCU Wrestling for this tremendous contribution to Morgan State University Athletics. This gift is the largest in Morgan athletics history and believed to be one of the largest donations to any HBCU athletics program from a private donor,” said Edward Scott, vice president and director of Intercollegiate Athletics at MSU.
There are nearly 400 wrestling programs in the NCAA’s D₁, D₂ D₃ NAIA, and NJCAA divisions. Morgan State is now the only HBCU to offer the sport.
MSU President David K. Wilson spoke about the significance of the donation and program for the school.
“Morgan as an institution is predicated on expanding opportunities, promoting equity, and creating access, and by way of this generous gift, we will be able to resurrect a program that opened the door for so many young men to bask in the promise and experience the magic of education,” said. Historically, Morgan has served as home to a nationally competitive, championship-caliber wrestling program, producing numerous national champions in the sport. We embrace this opportunity of being the only HBCU nationwide offering a D₁ varsity wrestling program, and we invite those seeking a competitive athletic experience in this sport, and a world-class education, to consider Morgan State University.”
Photo Courtesy of Morgan State Athletics