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Rutgers Wrestling draws B1G-time crowds

The ‘16-’17 numbers are impressive. And we look at some rule changes on the horizon, too.

Roy DeBoer with permission

When I do the attendance reports each week for football in the fall, I get the occasional “who cares?” in the comments. The fact is, people notice who and how many are in the seats. On a national level. And what Scott Goodale and RU have done the last few seasons is definitely worth noting.

For the second consecutive year, Rutgers wrestling finished fifth overall nationally in average home dual attendance for the 2016-17 season. The data was compiled by the With 4,706 fans per home event, the Knights were among the sport’s elite trailing only Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.

The Knights’ average was helped by the nation’s largest dual match crowd of the year, the Battle at the Birthplace between RU and Princeton. The outdoor match drew 16,178 to High Point Solutions Stadium. It was the second largest crowd to ever watch a dual meet, behind only Iowa’s Grapple on the Gridiron with 42,287. But that was Iowa, after all.

If you took out the Princeton match, the Knights still averaged just over 2,400/match at home, a figure that would still have them in the top ten nationally.

Rutgers finished within the top-six in home attendance for the third-straight season, with only Iowa (9,860), Penn State (7833), Ohio State (5880), and Oklahoma State (5041) drawing more. In total, 28,236 fans watched Rutgers wrestle in Piscataway in 2016-17.

And guess what the graphic was at the top of’s Twitter post on attendance? Look familiar?

Season Tickets for 2017-18

The home schedule for next year hasn’t been announced yet but you can still put a deposit down for wrestling season tickets now. Fans can secure season tickets for the 2017-18 wrestling season with a $50 deposit. The deposit can be applied to both new and renewal season ticket plans for the upcoming wrestling campaign. To purchase or renew tickets, call 1-866-445-GORU (4678). As a priority point sport, a tax-deductible Rutgers Scholarship Fund seat gift will be included in the total season ticket price. Full ticket pricing, future home opponents and when fans can claim their tickets will be announced at a later date.

Potential Rule Changes for 2017-18

The Open Mat also took note of rule changes being considered by the NCAA. The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee recommended several changes which still have to be okayed by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel which is scheduled to review wrestling rules proposals during a teleconference June 13. A quick overview:

Weight Protocols: Wrestlers who violate NCAA weight assessment protocols, utilize prohibited weight-loss practices or violate medical examination rules would require a wrestler to miss eight consecutive competitions on his first offense in those areas, and to sit out a year for a second offense. Additionally, the team’s coach and the director of athletics would receive private reprimands on the first offense for a wrestler who violates the weight management rules. If a second offense occurs, additional institutional penalties will be determined by the rules committee.

  • Bob’s thoughts: The protocols are there for the safety and well being of the wrestlers. And penalizing the coach and administrator - who are supposed to be watching out for the kid - is a good thing.

Weight allowance: The committee recommended when back-to-back dual meet competitions occur, all competitors will receive a 1-pound weight allowance on the second day of competition. Currently no allowance is given.

  • Bob’s thoughts: I was talking to one of the wrestlers after a match and asked about it because they had back-to-back coming up. I was surprised it wasn’t on the books. Good idea.

Ear protection: The committee proposed removing the current requirement that ear protection must be worn, while it still recommending that all student-athletes wear the equipment in both practice and competition; it would be the student-athlete’s choice.

  • Bob’s thoughts: I’m old enough to remember scholastic wrestling without headgear! And I recall the gradual introduction of headgear, sometimes having to wear it myself while wrestling someone who didn’t. This is probably not a bad idea. It isn’t safety, it’s esthetics and how much mom or dad don’t want junior to have a cauliflower ear. The wrestlers are adults and - again - it isn’t a safety issue.

Facial hair: The committee recommended wrestlers be allowed to have facial hair of up to a half-inch as long as the skin of the wrestler is visible so that an accurate medical examination can occur. If the official rules the beard is too thick, the wrestler will be required to cover up the facial hair using a non-abrasive facial covering or a face mask. Currently, wrestlers are not allowed to have facial hair unless they file for a waiver to explain why they should be an exception to the rule.

  • Bob’s thoughts: Facial hair? I’m old school - shave!. But Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder wants the change!

Putting yourself in jeopardy: The recommendation is that a wrestler in the neutral position who becomes stationary on his back will now be verbally warned by the official, a count will commence, and then, if the wrestler has been unable to get off his back by the time the count reaches three, a takedown will be awarded. The standard for being on your back in this instance is 90 degrees. Now, there is a defined way to earn a takedown when your opponent tries to pass the leg that does not require establishing what has traditionally been defined as control.

  • Bob’s thoughts: I’m no expert, especially at the college level. I wrestled (not very well) and coached at the high school level, and that was a while ago. Techniques have changed and I’ve now watched enough college wrestling that this last recommendation probably is a good thing to consider. Lots of scrambles end up in a stalemate when, in fact, the defending wrestler put himself in a precarious situation.