You get the impression that maybe Cleveland State athletic director John Parry might have wanted to think this whole “replace wrestling with lacrosse” thing a little bit more.
It has gone way beyond Parry spending a second week being openly chided by the wrestling community for his decision to yank the program’s funding. The students got involved and threw another haymaker at him this week with a referendum vote as part of the annual Student Government Association elections.
Of course, the chiding is still happening. Weekly radio show Takedown Wrestling had a pair of interviews last week with CSU head coach Ben Stehura and Aaron Grossman of the Wrestlers in Business Network, who has been running point on the ongoing crowdfunding effort. This week featured former Viking wrestler Jason Effner, who has also been heavily involved drumming up support.
The program also got a huge boost when Dan Gable, far and away one of the most recognized names in the sport, joined in to lend a hand to the funding battle.
“We’re not planning on rolling to our backs and getting pinned,” Gable said. “I just want to be on board to do whatever is necessary.”
The Cleveland State wrestlers themselves have been quite busy, as well, keeping the #SaveCSUWrestling and #SaveClevelandStateWrestling hashtags going on social media. Sophomore 174-pound grappler Nick Corba took his case to the readers of the Cauldron in an opinion piece on Tuesday.
The day before, there was a rally held at Woodling Gym in support of wrestlers that drew not only regular students, but their fellow student-athletes.
And then came the vote.
Truth be told, the way everything has gone for Parry to this point, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that 967 students voted in the affirmative on a $4 to $6 per credit hour increase to the General Fee, winning over 650 votes against the measure.
Let’s recap. The same university that, according to Parry, declined to give him the increase he wanted just saw its student body actually agree to the hike in a public vote by a pretty wide (60-40) margin.
Before everyone gets too happy, the SGA vote was non-binding and CSU is within its power to ignore the results. I don’t think, however, that making that move would dispel any myths about the administration being completely out of touch with its students. And Cleveland State has had enough public relations nightmares in the past couple of weeks, with the expensive Recreation Center roof fix and the departure of Trey Lewis (we’ll get to that one later in the column).
So, unless CSU’s leaders completely have rocks in their heads, they’ll probably want to listen to what students are saying and do the right thing here. Otherwise, they look just as bad as Parry.
And what of the athletic director? The overwhelming win by Cleveland State wrestling with this referendum should be also be seen as a vote of no confidence in Parry. The entire affair has been completely mishandled, by all accounts, from the announcement to the subsequent meeting with fundraising stakeholders that netted no progress.
It’s beginning to look more and more that the Parry’s legacy won’t be what he was looking for (bringing the sport that he loves to CSU) or what it has looked like prior to the announcement (doing just enough not to anger anybody). If this fight keeps up, his legacy will end up being a gigantic mess.
And the drumbeats for Parry’s ouster are getting louder. Perhaps now would be a good time for him to break out one gigantic mea culpa to the students and the wrestling community.
So, Trey Lewis Really Went to Louisville…
In what can only be considered the least surprising move ever, Cleveland State’s leading scorer Trey Lewis will officially be trading in his Viking green for the red of the Louisville Cardinals. His decision to transfer to play for Rick Pitino was probably telegraphed months ago when he scored 24 of CSU’s 33 points in an early-season loss to Louisville. What originally looked like just a typical Lewis takeover apparently was just one big tryout.
The one question, of course, is that if it was obvious to just about everybody that Lewis will play for the Cardinals, what was the point of having a press conference at his alma mater, Garfield Heights High School? It’s not like the school needs to raise its profile any. Head coach Sonny Johnson already has Lewis at his second high-major school, and there’s plenty of buzz for some of his other top players at big programs.
Regardless of the odd circumstances behind the announcement, Cleveland State is now without two of its three leading scorers from this season. And we still don’t know if a third, forward Anton Grady, has plans after graduating himself in May.