Judge: University of Oregon OK to end men's wrestling program

Lynn Ashcroft

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) -The University of Oregon was within its rights to jettison its men's wrestling program, a state judge ruled Tuesday. Marion County Circuit Judge Lynn Ashcroft upheld the university's decision to scuttle its intercollegiate wrestling program, saying the school can choose what programs it offers. The president of the University of Oregon, Dave Frohnmayer, is a former Republican attorney general of Oregon. After ending its varsity wrestling program amid what officials called a lack of widespread support, the university moved to restore its baseball program for the 2009 season and added women's competitive cheer. The school's decision to end the program was based on several criteria, including community support and the ability to sustain the program, said Jake Weigler, a spokesman for Attorney General Hardy Myers, a Democrat. The Save Oregon Wrestling Foundation and Equity in Athletics filed the lawsuit challenging the decision to end the sport after the current season. The group claimed the Eugene school violated procedural requirements in ending the sport. In his six-page ruling, the judge said he sympathized with the athletes whose wrestling careers were perhaps cut short by the school's decision. "Wrestling at the university has strong support from the fans and participants," Ashcroft said in his ruling. "Unfortunately, it appears that it had limited support from the public and the remainder of the student body." The judge noted that the university in its decision did not discriminate against any protected party, individual or group. "The decision to end the wrestling program was based on financial, academic and community interest considerations, and nothing more," Ashcroft wrote. Named as defendants in the lawsuit were: the school, Frohnmayer, the Oregon University System, Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner, the university's Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny, UO Associate Athletic Directors Renee Baumgartner and Neal Zoumboukos and UO General Counsel Melinda Grier. From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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