Largest donation in Morgan State University history paves the way for the return of Division I collegiate wrestling after a 24-year hiatus


BALTIMORE, Md. (October 21, 2021) – Morgan State University today announced the return of competitive college wrestling to their sports programs, making Morgan the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the country to promote the sport of wrestling at the NCAA Division I Varsity level offers. After a 24-year hiatus, the sport’s revival is the result of the largest donation in history to Morgan’s Athletic Department: a $ 2.7 million gift from HBCU Wrestling (HBCUW), a new initiative to restore wrestling programs HBCU campus in partnership with billionaire, philanthropist and former hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz. The university has also worked with the Baltimore-based nonprofit Beat the Streets to make the return of wrestling at Maryland’s largest HBCU a reality.

The donation, which is among the largest received from a private donor to the university, will fund Morgan’s men’s wrestling and support up to nine full scholarships annually. In addition to wrestling resurgence, the Morgan State Department of Athletics is continuously evaluating the university’s sports portfolio to improve access, equity, and opportunities for future Morgan students.

“The purpose of this donation is to create access and equity that will serve to further diversify the sport of wrestling by providing opportunities for student athletes that do not currently exist,” said Edward Scott, Ph.D., vice president and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Morgan. “We are extremely grateful to Mike Novogratz and HBCU Wrestling for this tremendous contribution to Morgan State University Athletics. This gift is the largest in Morgan track and field history and is considered to be one of the largest private donation donations to an HBCU track and field program. ”

The Morgan Bears have a rich and illustrious history in wrestling that began in the early 1950s. The Bears dominated the competition during that decade and continued the trend into the 1960s, winning the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) titles in 1963, 1964, and 1965, among many other achievements.

In 1975-76 legendary coach James Phillips took over and led the Bears to unprecedented success for the next 20 years. Under Phillips, the Bears won 13 titles at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). He was also named MEAC Coach of the Year 12 times and was instrumental in bringing the 1984 NCAA Eastern Wrestling Regional Championship to Morgan State University. Under his direction, Morgan produced four national champions and had more than 75 wrestlers named All-American. Morgan’s wrestling program was on
discontinued at the end of the 1996/97 season, partly due to a lack of resources.

“Morgan as an institution is built around expanding opportunity, promoting equal opportunity, and providing access, and through this generous gift we will be able to revive a program that has opened the door for so many young men to bask in the promises and experience to make the magic of education, “said David K. Wilson, Ed.D., President of Morgan.” In the past, Morgan was home to a nationally competitive championship-caliber wrestling program that produced numerous national champions in the sport. We take this opportunity to be the only HBCU nationwide offering a D1 varsity wrestling program, and invite those with a competitive “athletic experience in the sport and a world-class education” to consider Morgan State University draw.”

There are nearly 400 men’s wrestling programs at colleges in Divisions D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and NJCAA. For a number of academic athletes, the excitement of competing at a D1 wrestling college is a huge draw as it gives students the opportunity to compete at the highest level. Scholastic wrestling is now practiced in 49 of the 50 states in the United States.

Wilhelm“Wrestling teaches leadership. Fifteen of our 46 presidents have wrestled as well as many important personalities from business, politics and the community.” says Mike Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Investment Partners. “That’s what HBCUW is about, it’s about growing the sport of wrestling and building our bank of future black leaders who will make our nation fairer and more prosperous. I fully support the HBCU Wrestling Initiative and hope that many others will help move this endeavor forward. “

In addition to promoting the university’s relationship with Beat the Streets, which nurturing Baltimore’s youth through wrestling and STEM programs, Morgan will also engage the Coaches Association and Black Wrestling Association as part of a wider effort to encourage African American participation in the sport. It is common for wrestling to build character and teach young people to overcome obstacles, manage their emotions, respect authority, and become good teammates. It also strengthens the knowledge that success must be earned through hard work and determination.

“We are working with Morgan State to enrich the HBCU experience and look forward to more underrepresented students joining the wrestling community,” said Jahi Jones, director of HBCUW.

Over the past decade there has been an influx of African American students taking part in wrestling around the world. Approximately 20% of All-American wrestlers in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III and NAIA are African American or of mixed race with one African American parent. In 2021 alone, five of the 10 wrestling champions in NCAA Division I were African American, continuing a tradition of representation and excellence in sport.

Wrestling team

About Morgan
Founded in 1867, Morgan State University is a Carnegie classified High Research (R2) institution offering more than 130 academic programs leading to bachelor to doctorate degrees. A pre-eminent public Urban Research University in Maryland and the only university whose entire campus has been designated National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-ethnic student body and seeks to ensure that the doors to higher education are opened as much as possible on as many as possible. More information about Morgan State University can be found at

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