UNIVERSITY PARK — After a stellar wrestling career of his own, Carl Adams has spent the last 33 years overseeing the wrestling program at Boston University.
As a wrestler, he won two NCAA titles and was a three-time All-American for Iowa State in the 1970s. As a coach, he’s consistently had to make due with less around him. He waited 23 years before he was able to hire a full-time assistant coach and the Terriers’ practice facilities have remained largely unchanged for 40 years.
Now, Boston University’s status as a Division I program is about to change.
It’s on life support after university administrators decided to cut wrestling from the list of sponsored varsity sports this past spring. Now, Adams and his Terriers are fighting to keep this season from being the final one in program history.
“There’s always hope,” Adams told the Centre Daily Times. “I do think that it’s going to be an uphill battle all the way.”
Reinforcements are on the way.
No. 1 Penn State (3-0, 0-0) will travel to Case Gymnasium to take on the Terriers (0-3) on Friday at 7 p.m.
“I think wrestling fans in the area know that it’s going to be a big match and we’ve got a lot of good guys to watch and I think Boston’s fired up about it,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. That’s what we need.”
The Terriers could benefit from a large crowd as they continue their push to raise awareness for their plight. As Adams puts it, wrestling is a sport that is relevant on college campuses nationwide and remains meaningful in Boston. Having the No. 1 team in the country visit their portion of the northeast will only raise the Terriers’ profile.
Boston University spokesman Brian Kelley said the team is expecting the largest crowd in program history. Previously, the biggest crowd in Case Gymnasium was believed to be just over 800 fans who watched Boston beat Iowa State two seasons ago. Kelley said the university has already exceeded the amount of tickets sold for that dual.
Kelley added they expect more walk-ups on Friday night.
“You put Penn State at Boston University and perhaps we have one of the biggest crowds ever for the sport of wrestling,” Adams said. “For administrators here at Boston University to see that, the level of interest, I think it helps our cause and I think that was the thing that Cael recognized.”
And the Sanderson’s picked up on Boston’s status right away.
Penn State associate head coach Cody Sanderson, who handles much of Penn State’s scheduling, reached out to Adams almost immediately after learning of the Boston University administration’s decision in early April.
“As far as the level they’re competing at and the level we’re competing at, it’s really two different worlds,” Adams said. “However, for them to come in here and to give the people in this region an opportunity to see perhaps some of the best wrestlers in this country for sure and perhaps the world, is a real treat and it shows that wrestling is very relevant on the collegiate level.”
According to a Boston University release, the department of athletics and Board of Trustees “determined that to bring the wrestling program to a championship-caliber level, an immense infusion of resources, including major facility enhancements and additional staffing, would be required.”
Boston University last won a conference title in 1994 but Adams, who is fourth among active coaches in career Division I wins with 324, has consistently sent Terrier wrestlers to the NCAA tournament. Three Boston wrestlers advanced to the NCAA tournament last season and 63 Terriers have qualified for the final postseason tournament during Adams’ tenure.
In the last few months, Adams and his wrestlers have mounted a campaign on social media sites to bring their fight to preserve their program into focus. Adams has encouraged Boston University fans to write letters to the school’s administrators. Penn State wrestlers have sympathized with the Terriers.
“We definitely want to help it,” junior Nico Megaludis said. “We definitely want to go there and wrestle our best, too. It’s a good experience and if it helps them then that’s great.”
Senior David Taylor is looking forward to showcasing his talents in front of Boston fans and Adams himself.
“Whatever we can do to help,” Taylor said. “It’s unfortunate any time a wrestling program is going to drop their wrestling. It’s just not good for our sport. We’ll go up there and I think it’ll be a full venue which will be good for Boston.
“And Carl Adams is a legend in the sport of wrestling. So to go up there and wrestle there, you’re wrestling in front of one of the greatest ever who ever wrestled, Carl Adams, and Boston’s a good team and they’re going to want to come out and wrestle us hard. It’s going to be good for both of us.”
Follow Travis Johnson on Twitter @bytravisjohnson.