Immediate Release: July 5, 2006
VESTAL, N.Y. - Binghamton University has hired Pat Popolizio as its head wrestling coach, the school announced Wednesday.
Popolizio was the lead assistant coach at American University for the last two seasons, helping that program finish 17th in the country last winter. He is a former three-time NCAA qualifier and scholar-athlete at Oklahoma State.
"We're delighted that Pat Popolizio has accepted our offer to join Binghamton's coaching staff as our head wrestling coach," Athletics Director Joel Thirer said. "Pat has great credentials and I'm confident that he'll provide outstanding leadership as we strive to bring our program back to national prominence."
At American, Popolizio coached seven NCAA qualifiers and the school's first All-American alongside head coach and Binghamton native Mark Cody. This past season, the Eagles went 13-6, had three wrestlers ranked in the nation's top-10 and crowned two more All-Americans. Cody and Popolizio transformed a once-stagnant American program into a successful one in a short time span.
Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Army (2003-04) and Sacred Heart (2002-03). His team at Sacred Heart achieved the highest grade-point average of any wrestling program in the country.
"I am very excited to come back to New York and take over the program at Binghamton," Popolizio said. "On my campus visit I was impressed with the facilities and the support from the whole department. The entire atmosphere is very positive."
As a collegiate wrestler, Popolizio won more than 90 matches and was a two-time All-American and three-time NCAA qualifier at Oklahoma State under six-time world champion John Smith. While in Stillwater, Popolizio's teams finished as national runnerup, took third place twice and fifth place the other year at the NCAA Championship. He was a Big 12 runnerup in 1998 and 2002 and went on to place fifth at the World Team Trials in 2003. As a senior Popolizio was given the 2002 Oklahoma State Hustle Award, after being ranked as high as No. 1 in the country at 184 pounds. Also on his competitive resume is a Northeast Regional Open title, two University Freestyle All-America honors and FILA Junior All-American distinction in 1997.
His academic accomplishments include being named Academic All Big 12 twice and earning the Oklahoma State Student-Athlete Award five semesters. He graduated in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education.
A former New York state scholastic champion for Niskayuna High, Popolizio will put his New York roots to good use with an in-state recruiting emphasis.
"One of my main focuses will be to recruit the top talent out of New York - to keep them at home. The state is a hotbed for wrestling, especially in the Binghamton area. It's going to be a great opportunity to suceed and I'm looking to take the program to a top 25 level in the next few years."
He was the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the 1996 state meet, where as a senior at Niskayuna, Popolizio captured the 177-pound title. He went on to become the national high school runnerup.
Popolizio replaces Tony Robie, who departed after one season to accept a position at Virginia Tech.
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