Barry Davis, who has spent the last quarter-century leading the University of Wisconsin wrestling program and is the longest-tenured current Badgers head coach, announced Monday he’s leaving the program.
Davis, 56, will end his 25-year stay as Badgers wrestling coach after the NCAA championships March 15-17 in Cleveland.
UW announced his departure in a news release but didn’t specify a reason.
Davis, assistant coaches Kyle Ruschell and Trevor Brandvold and Badgers wrestlers all were unavailable for interviews Monday to discuss the development, a UW spokesperson said.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wisconsin,” Davis said in a statement released by the school. “I’ve worked with lots of great people and many tremendous student-athletes. This university will always hold a special place in my heart.”
The Badgers finished sixth of 14 teams at the Big Ten Conference championships on Sunday — three places higher than projections — and seven individuals qualified for the NCAA meet.
UW, ranked 22nd nationally in the National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today poll, was 7-5 in dual meets this season and had its third straight losing record in the Big Ten at 4-5.
A member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Davis was an athlete and assistant coach at Iowa, winning three NCAA championships and four All-American awards. He was a silver medalist at the 1984 Olympics.
Since joining UW as interim head coach in 1993 — he was appointed to the full-time position in 1994 — he has coached 26 All-Americans, eight Big Ten champions and three NCAA champions. He was the national coach of the year in 2010 after the Badgers took fourth at the NCAA meet.
In 24 completed seasons, Davis’ teams had 15 top-20 NCAA finishes. He has a 234-172-11 record in dual meets — first among 15 UW wrestling coaches in wins.
“I want to thank Barry for all he’s done for Wisconsin wrestling throughout his time here,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “I’ve known Barry for a long time, back to my days as an assistant coach at Iowa, and he is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. He has left an indelible mark on Wisconsin wrestling.”
According to the most recent available records, Davis’ salary was $107,467 on an 11-month contract. Last April, the UW Athletic Board approved a one-year extension of his three-year contract through May 31, 2020.
Associate head coach Brandvold, in his sixth year on the staff, and Ruschell, in his seventh season, will be in charge of the program after this weekend’s NCAA meet, a UW spokesperson said.