Longtime wrestling coach Turnbull ousted at West Virginia
Local college wrestling will endure a second coaching change in as many years, though few saw this one coming.
While Pitt's Rande Stottlemyer retired after 34 years and a third consecutive Eastern Wrestling League title last spring, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck announced Friday the university would not renew the contract of 36-year veteran Craig Turnbull.
Turnbull led a transition into the wrestling-rich Big 12, but the Mountaineers went winless in conference dual meets and had five wrestlers go 3-10 at last week's NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
“It's a shame,” Stottlemyer said. “But I guess change is inevitable.”
Former Canon-McMillan coach Chris Mary, who wrestled at WVU from 1985-89, said he was shaken by Friday's news and spent much of the day on the phone with former teammates.
“He was at my wedding, my 40th birthday and my mother's funeral,” Mary said. “He's very special to me and very special to many wrestlers who came through the program.”
Colin Johnston, who wrestled for Mary and finished his WVU career this winter, agrees.
“It's hard to see him not get his contract renewed,” Johnston said. “It's tough on everybody: his family, the guys on the team.”
Turnbull did not return a voice message.
West Virginia associate head coach Greg Jones, a Greensburg Salem graduate and a three-time NCAA champion under Turnbull, declined comment.
“It was a surprise,” said Matt Lebe, a former WVU wrestler who is Jeannette's wrestling coach and athletic director. “A lot of talking today to people who care about the program and Coach Turnbull.”
An All-American at Clarion, Turnbull had been WVU's head coach since 1979 and compiled a record of 287-214-9.
The four-time Eastern Wrestling League Coach of the Year coached five individual national champions, 26 of the program's 29 All-Americans, 42 EWL champions and more than 160 NCAA qualifiers.
Edinboro's Tim Flynn used to coach alongside Stottlemyer and Turnbull in the EWL, but now Flynn, a 17-year veteran, finds himself as the area's longest-tenured coach, the second-longest in the EWL.
“It makes me feel old,” Flynn joked. “Those two were my mentors in the EWL. They took good care of me.”
Luck thanked Turnbull in a statement and said a national search for Turnbull's replacement will begin immediately.
“He's done a heck of a job over the years,” Stottlemyer said. “He's had national champions. I guess they felt like they needed to go a different direction. I don't know.”
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.