When the senior class graduates next month, more than 1,200 students will be moving on with many memories of their years at Marquette.
At least three seniors, though, will leave the Bradley Center without one memory. Their chance at creating that memory was taken away four years ago, when Marquette's wrestling program was eliminated after 52 years in existence.
On June 15, 2001, the wrestling program was formally dropped from Marquette's athletics lineup to make the university compliant with Title IX, a 1972 Civil Rights Act amendment that, as interpreted by the NCAA, requires the finances for male and female athletes to be proportional to the percentage of undergraduate males and females at a university. In many cases, a university must eliminate one or more men's athletic programs to adhere to the amendment.
According to the Aug. 27, 2001, edition of The Tribune, funding was reduced for the wrestling team in 1992 to allow for the creation of a women's soccer team. Despite the drop in finances, the team continued to compete and "for 10 years was self-funded," said College of Communication senior Cory Husher.
The team also persevered despite not belonging to a specific conference, according to Jim Schmitz, wrestling head coach from 1989 to 2001. Because Conference USA did not sponsor wrestling, the team competed in the West and East Regionals during Schmitz's time as head coach, he said.
Marquette also was able to send two wrestlers — Peter Butville and Neil Posmer — to the NCAA Championships one year before the program was discontinued, according to the 2001 Tribune.
Husher, along with College of Engineering seniors and roommates Joey Fama and Anthony Filleti (who chose not to comment), was planning to join the wrestling team as a freshman in 2001 and continue to "make a name for the school's program," he said.
When they heard the program was going to be eliminated that summer, Husher and Fama disagreed with the university's decision.
Though the goal of Title IX is equality, Husher said, the removal of the wrestling program did not seem equal.
"I'm still dissatisfied with how it happened," Husher said.
"Title IX was put into place to try to be fair, but it is going about it the wrong way," Fama said.
With wrestling gone, however, Husher and Fama had to figure out how to fill the void left behind.
Husher was a champion wrestler in high school who "started a dynasty" before he graduated, he said. Because wrestling had been such a huge part of his life, Husher had to "try and make the best of it" when he started classes at Marquette.
Husher and Fama have since moved on from wrestling to other endeavors, while Schmitz remains involved in the sport as a coach for the state's Ringers wrestling club. Fama, who viewed wrestling more as a bonus than a large part of his life, joined several intramural teams, including rugby, football and softball. During Christmas break, he said, he works with his high school and junior high wrestling teams to teach them as well as get back into shape.
Husher now has a band and is filming a movie, in addition to double-majoring in broadcast and electronic communication and psychology and double-minoring in philosophy and theology. Though his workload seems tremendous, Husher said he developed his dedication in part by wrestling.
"When you're wrestling, you want to be good, so you have to be dedicated," he said.
"Without wrestling, I don't think I'd be the person I am today," he said.
If the wrestling program were not eliminated, Husher said, wrestling would have been his main focus in college. However, not being on the wrestling team "opened up more opportunities for me."
This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on April 21 2005.