Mavericks reel after UNO’s surprise move

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March 13th, 2011

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Omaha, NE – Hundreds of students, athletes and coaches gathered at the Sapp Fieldhouse on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus Sunday evening, just hours after an announcement that UNO Athletics would be cutting the Maverick wrestling and football programs from its roster.

Hundreds of student-athletes and coaches showed up at the Sapp Fieldhouse Sunday to protest UNO's decision to cut Maverick wrestling and football (Photo Robyn Wisch)

At a press conference earlier Sunday, UNO Chancellor John Christensen and Director of Athletics Trev Alberts announced Maverick Athletics would be pursuing Division I status within the Summit League, a 10-team conference that does not officially sanction football or wrestling. Alberts said the decision to cut the programs was “extraordinarily difficult.”

The move to shut down the 100-year football program was financial, he said, and the cuts to both programs were decided in order to streamline the University’s conference memberships. “If we competed in football and wrestling…we would have had four conferences,” he said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense.” The UNO hockey program is currently a member of the WCHA Conference, and that will stay in place.

All-American wrestler Esai Dominguez held back tears as he addressed a crowd of supporters at the Sapp Fieldhouse Sunday (Photo Robyn Wisch)

At the rally, Wrestling Coach Mike Denney addressed a crowd of supporters, urging them to pull together as a team and fight the decision. “We’ve got to show some moxy,” he said. And, along with State Senator Tyson Larson who stood by his side, he said all wrestling and football supporters should write and call the University Board of Regents and urge them to halt the move.

All-American wrestler Esia Dominguez stood up to speak, while the crowd cheered and rang cowbells. He said he has one more year at UNO, and he wants to stay at the school and stay on the mat. “It’s pretty hard for me,” he said, choking back tears. “UNO’s my home and I grew up here, and I don’t want to see that go. So don’t let them take apart my family.”

The wrestling team was told the news just hours after they brought home their third straight National Championship. University Board of Regents is expected to call a special session to vote on the recommendation.

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