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Whelan To Step Down as SIUE Wrestling Coach


Khris Whelan
Khris Whelan
March 21, 2007


          EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - After careful deliberation, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville wrestling Coach Khris Whelan announced Wednesday that he will step down as the team's part-time head coach.
          Dr. Brad Hewitt, SIUE Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said Whelan told him the Cougar wrestling program was in need of a full-time coach as the Cougars make the transition from NCAA Division II to Division I.
          "Khris and I met last week to strategize about fundraising for the new facility and recruiting," said Hewitt. "He returned to my office this week with a very sincere rationale for stepping down. He places the program first, saying the program deserves a full-time head coach, and I concur with his recommendation." As a tenured teacher at Cahokia High School, it was not feasible for Whelan to take a full-time coaching position at SIUE at this point in his career, noted Hewitt.
          SIUE will begin the process of hiring a full-time wrestling coach as soon as possible. Hewitt said the support of the Friends of Wrestling will help move the head coaching position to full-time.
          "Khris put the program first over his own coaching aspirations," Hewitt said. "With the acceleration of the program to Division I and the fund-raising challenge for our new facility, the program needs a full-time commitment."
          "This program is in better shape from top to bottom than when Khris took over the program," said Hewitt. "Wins and losses are just a small part of that." During the past two semesters, the wrestling team has had seven student-athletes on the dean's list, including one with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
          The current SIUE wrestling facility received a makeover under Whelan. "He's done a great job of upgrading our current facility at the Vadalabene Center," said Hewitt. The Cougars continue to face a high-level of competition due to Whelan's contacts in the collegiate wrestling arena, and alumni involvement has dramatically increased.
          The new head coach will take over a program on the verge of major changes. A new wrestling/volleyball facility, boosted by a $2 million gift from Mark and Carol Mestamacher, is in the works to become one of the Midwest's top training facilities.
          SIUE is coming off a 3-10 season as John Ficht (Burbank) qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships at 165 pounds. As part of the move to Division I, the Cougars will compete for one more season in Division II in SIUE's exploratory year. In 2008-2009, the Cougars will put together a Division I schedule.
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