Joe Patrovich said he's the busiest retired guy in the world, and he's only going to get busier. LIU Post announced Tuesday the addition of seven NCAA Division II sports, starting in the 2014-15 academic year, and Patrovich accepted the school's offer to run its reinstated wrestling program.
"I'm working 16 hours a day with the high school football and wrestling,'' he said with a laugh. He recently finished varsity football at Hauppauge and started coaching varsity wrestling at Islip. "But it's an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. I want to build that program.''
The wrestling program was discontinued after the 1987-88 season. Bob McIntyre, the athletic director in the Bellport district, was part of LIU Post's last wrestling team. McIntyre graduated in 1989.
"I'm very excited about the addition of wrestling at Post," McIntyre said. "It should have never been terminated. But it was a gender-equity issue and the program was phased out. My phone hasn't stopped ringing. All the guys want to come back and support the program."
Bryan Collins, director of athletics and recreation at LIU Post, said the decision to add sports is a credit to the vision of new president Dr. Kimberly R. Cline. The college also will add women's golf, women's fencing and men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field.
"We have a great new president and she understands what athletics means to a university," Collins said. "Dr. Cline wants more opportunities for women and wants to bring back some of our more traditionally strong sports like track and wrestling. The response has been unbelievable."
Patrovich, who was inducted to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012, has an impressive resume. He's coached 21 county champions, 13 state finalists, 10 All-America selections and eight state champions and been named coach of the year in Nassau and Suffolk.
"We are thrilled to bring back two programs [track and field, wrestling] that have a great history in the growth of LIU Post athletics," Collins said. "These two programs achieved tremendous recognition and successes not solely on the regional level, but nationally as well."
"Reinstating these two programs will reconnect LIU Post with great alumni."
Center Moriches wrestling coach Mike Zimbler already has started posting all the old photos of Post wrestlers on social media.
"This is a great decision for the sport and LIU Post," Zimbler said. "There is a buzz out there. The alumni and the rest of the Long Island wrestling community are ready to embrace the program."