By Jamila Bey
NCAA Division I, Varsity-level men’s wrestling is coming back to Morgan State University after a 25 year hiatus. Led by Kenny Monday, the first Black wrestler in history to win an Olympic gold medal, the program’s return will mark Morgan State as the only HBCU to offer NCAA Division I Varsity-level wrestling.
An exhaustive search led the Bears to Monday, whose accomplishments in the sport remain unparalleled. Olympic gold medalist (1988) and silver medalist (1992), World Champion (1989), USA Free Style Champion (1985, 1988, 1991 and 1996) and three-time All-American and NCAA Champion (1984). He has been inducted into the National Wrestling (2001), Oklahoma Sports (2003) and United World Wrestling International (2016) Halls of Fame. As a coach, Monday has trained 30 national champions and 50 All-Americans.
Last October, the university announced its plans to revive the men’s wrestling program with the support a $2.7-million gift from HBCU Wrestling (HBCUW), an organization dedicated to reestablishing wrestling programs on HBCU campuses. The donation provides funding for the program and supports up to nine full scholarships each year.
President of the HBCU, David K. Wilson, said, “It isn’t every day that you can bring in a leader the caliber of Coach Kenny Monday…someone who has successfully competed and coached at the high school, collegiate and professional levels and has won throughout his career.”
The first full season of Morgan’s new wrestling program is slated for 2023–24.