Purdue wrestling head coach Tony Ersland was named president elect of the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) last week, setting him up to be next in line as the head of the organization. The NWCA Board of Directors met on on June 25, voting in Ersland’s position in addition to several others.
“It’s an honor to be put in a position where I can help lead and grow wrestling,” said Ersland. “Pat Popolizio (North Carolina State head coach) has done a great job the last two years, and I’m looking forward to working alongside Kevin Ward (Army West Point head coach) the next two years.”
Ersland continued, “I love wrestling, I love the future of wrestling, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it at a leadership level.” He plans to serve as the president elect for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons before taking the chair as the NWCA president in 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Ersland is going into his sixth year as the head coach at Purdue, leading the Boilermakers into some of the greatest successes in program history. Purdue crowned a single-season program-record five All-Americans in 2020, which the NWCA awarded on April 17 based on the Boilermakers’ NCAA Championship seedings after the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Boilermakers were projected to finish seventh at the national tournament based on their seedings, and were only 5.5 points shy of fourth place and an NCAA team trophy.
Purdue put together its best Big Ten Championship finish since 1992, taking fifth at the 2020 conference tournament at Rutgers with 83 points and eight individual placewinners. Ersland helped a pair of grapplers advance to the Big Ten Championship match, marking the first time since 2004 multiple Boilermakers competed for a conference crown.
The Boilermakers finished 12-5 in dual competition in 2019-20, including a 5-4 mark in Big Ten Duals, the Boilermakers’ best since 2012.
Ersland is no stranger to national committees and work toward the betterment of wrestling, currently serving on a pair of efforts in addition to his new post. He’s served on the NWCA’s coaches’ leadership group since 2018, and is a member of the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate committee, which started in February of 2020.
Ersland’s appointment extends a trend of national leadership among the Boilermaker athletics coaches, joining several other Purdue staff members with positions on national coaches association boards. Men’s basketball head coach Matt Painter currently holds a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors and is the chair of the USA Basketball selection committee, while women’s basketball head coach Sharon Versyp has served on multiple committees for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, including most recently on the national recruiting committee. Softball head coach Boo De Olivera is on the National Fastpitch Coaches Association board of directors, women’s volleyball head coach Dave Shondell currently serves on the NCAA Regional Selection Committee, and cross country coach John Oliver spent time on the executive committee for his group and was the NCAA West Region representative.