EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – After a great deal of self-reflection and consideration for his young and growing family, SIUE Wrestling Head Coach David Ray will give up his coaching duties and move to an administrative position for the remainder of his contract, SIUE Athletic Director Brad Hewitt announced Friday.
"Coaching wrestling is a young man's sport," said Ray. "I have enjoyed my 23 years in the coaching profession. SIUE wrestling is now on solid ground, and I can see a bright, successful future for the program. I would like to thank everyone for this opportunity, but it is time to make a change for me and my family."
"We are indebted to Coach Ray for bringing the SIUE wrestling program from NCAA Division II anonymity into an active NCAA Division I program and proud member of the Southern Conference (SoCon)," said Hewitt. "David has dedicated and sacrificed many hours to building our program from the ground up, raised significant dollars to create the first-ever dedicated wrestling team locker room, and opened channels of communication with hundreds of SIUE alumni."
Transition is tough, especially when tournament opportunities are what often motivate an individual sport athlete such as a wrestler. Hewitt said the wrestling program under Ray's leadership has noticeably improved.
"We have quality young men in our program," he said. "They support their peers, are active in the community, and, most importantly, graduate."
Coach Ray will assume administrative duties for the remainder of his contract and is exploring opportunities both at the University and in the private sector.
"Assistant Coach Donovan McMahill will manage the program and recruiting process until a new head coach is named," said Hewitt. "We will conduct a national search to find an individual who understands and has demonstrated success in academic accountability, Division I Academic Progress Rates, and Division I recruiting. This individual must truly understand the 'philosophical' differences between a major and the mid-major level program."
Hewitt believes, despite a potentially narrow market, the Cougars will find the right coach to take over the program – one of only 76 Division I wrestling programs in the country.
"We are ready for the next step in our evolution to being a quality Division I program with individuals capable of competing in the national tournament," Hewitt said. "We wish David and his family all the best in the future."
NOTE: Any coaches seeking to fill the head coaching position should send appropriate communications to Senior Associate Director of Athletics Jason Coomer at email@example.com.