Iowa, Iowa State replacing wrestling coaches

Updated: March 31, 2006, 3:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa State announced Friday that former Cyclone wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson will replace coach Bobby Douglas, who announced his retirement from coaching.

Meanwhile, Iowa fired coach Jim Zalesky and announced that the school would move "quickly and efficiently" to name a replacement after the team's lowest finish in the Big Ten Championship in 39 years.

Douglas said his decision to step down was made to guarantee that Sanderson, a 2004 Olympic champion and the only undefeated (159-0), four-time NCAA champion, would take over as Cyclone head coach.

"The future of ISU wrestling is what I care about most." Douglas said in a statement released by the school. "I wanted to ensure that Cael Sanderson was that future. It is what fueled my decision to step down."

Sanderson said the chance to coach at his alma mater was a "dream come true."

"I'm introduced today as Iowa State's wrestling coach because of the selfless sacrifices of my college coach, Bobby Douglas," Sanderson said in a statement. "I promise to work as hard as I did as a competitor to build upon the traditions I've inherited as head coach. Iowa State University is a special place to our family. I'm humbled and excited at the same time about my opportunity."

Douglas will remain with the ISU athletics department as an assistant athletics director.

The university also announced the establishment of an endowed scholarship in Douglas' name to honor the Hall of Fame coach.

Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby announced Wednesday that coach Zalesky, who replaced Dan Gable at Iowa in 1997 and won national titles his first three seasons, will be replaced.

"I want to thank Jim and his staff for their efforts and I want to acknowledge the success they have helped to achieve," Bowlsby said in a statement. "Unfortunately, at this point in time it is not arguable that we are making the kind of progress that will once again place our program among the elite in the sport."

Bowlsby said the search for his replacement will begin immediately.

Zalesky led Iowa to national runners-up finishes in 2001 and 2004. But in 2006, Iowa failed to produce an individual champion in the Big Ten or NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. Iowa finished 11-7 in dual meets this season and placed sixth at the Big Ten championships, its lowest showing since 1967.

Zalesky was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004. He was a four-time All-American and a three-time NCAA champion for the Hawkeyes from 1981-84.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.