UNI Campaigning to upgrade Wrestling Facilities

By JIM NELSON, jim.nelson@wcfcourier.com | Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 1:00 pm

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Northern Iowa athletics director Troy Dannen was taken back when he learned Nebraska-Omaha dropped its highly successful wrestling program two months ago.
Wednesday, at the monthly Panther Wrestling Club meeting in front of a crowd of UNI wrestling supporters and head coach Doug Schwab, he guaranteed that won’t happen under his watch in Cedar Falls.
Soon after, Dannen pledged the first $5,000 while announcing a campaign to raise money for West Gym renovations for Northern Iowa’s wrestling program.
The multi-phase plan calls for expanding the wrestling room, building a new locker room, renovating and expanding the weight room and improving the sports medicine area.
But before a brick can be knocked out or a nail hammered, Dannen is asking for not only wrestling supporters, but UNI fans in general, to help raise $400,000 to complete the first two phases of the project, which are the expansion of the wrestling room and the building of a new locker room.
Talk of renovating the wrestling locker room has been going on since the mid-1970s, according to current Wartburg College coach Jim Miller, who was a multi-time all-American for the Panthers.
The entire project is expected to near $1 million, but the first two phases have been deemed the most critical needs.
In addition to his pledge, Dannen has pledged $100,000 from a portion of the “Imagine the Impact” fundraising campaign that has been dedicated for facility improvements.
“A partial commitment doesn’t get us going,” Dannen said Wednesday.
“You go back to the McLeod Center you had to have 95 percent of that in or committed to it before getting started.”
Dannen indicated additional “Imagine the Impact” funds could be available, but before he could pledge any more money to the project he needs to see finanical support and commitment from the wrestling community.
“We need support from the wrestling community, support from UNI fans … wrestling fans in general, even if they are not UNI wrestling fans,” Dannen said. “The commitment to the progam is there and they have to have the necessary tools to compete at the Division I level and this is a major part of it.
“We have the coach in place. He has recruited the student-athletes that we need to compete at a high Division I level. We just have to give him the facilities to do it.
“My goal is at some point this fall before the season starts we are out to bid for at least a portion or all of the project. To me the number is not unreasonable for what we are going to get done. If we were out trying to raise $5 million it would be a much different challenge.”
As is his nature, Schwab wants to see it all happen fast, but knows that is easier said than done.
“I think it is important for the alumni to see the university is stepping up to do something for wrestling and show that it is stable,” Schwab said. “That is one thing I’ve talked to Troy (Dannen), the administration about. Because there are still some questions out there.
“Fans have seen three or four wrestling programs dropped in the last month and wonder is UNI next? That is on people’s minds.
“To go out and put a million-dollar project together and put that into wrestling shows wrestling is important to UNI. We look forward to it happening … we just want to start breaking ground.
“We’re thinking about parts of it, but I’m thinking, ‘Let’s get the whole thing done.’ That is doable. It’s a lot of money, but we have a lot of proud alumni who have been impacted by wrestling.
“Now we have to get out there and ask them to give back to it, give to the future of this program.”
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Posted in Wrestling, Western-wrestling, Uni, Sports on Thursday, May 12, 2011 1:00 pm Updated: 4:33 pm. | Tags: Uni Wrestling, West Gym, Troy Dannen, Doug Schwab, Panther Wrestling Club