GVSU welcoming back varsity wrestling after decadeslong hiatus


ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Valley State University is relaunching its wrestling program after 30 years thanks to a donation from a former Laker wrestler.

John Harris, who graduated in 1977, and Diane Harris donated $3 million to GVSU, paving the way for a varsity status program for men and the introduction of a women’s program. Competition is expected to begin in 2023.

“Bringing men’s wrestling back and adding women’s wrestling will attract quality prospective students, who will help continue to build the brand of championship excellence,” GVSU Director of Athletics Keri Becker stated.

GVSU says it will still need additional donations to back recruitment, coaches and other costs, but it said the Harris’ donation makes up more than three quarters of the total need.

“Thank you to John and Diane Harris, who committed the generous lead donation, and the many generous supporters, assuring young men and women committed to collegiate wrestling can pursue the Grand Valley education that richly influenced their lives,” President Philomena V. Mantella said in a Monday statement.

The Lakers’ first varsity wrestling season was 1967-68. In the following 26 years, the program produced more than 50 All-Americans, including John Harris. 

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