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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Weekend event raises over $100K to save Cal State Bakersfield wrestling, other sports




2x NCAA heavyweight champ STEPHEN NEAL (blue shirt) at Cal State Bakersfield fundraiser


By Mark Palmer

May 18, 2010

In February, California State University, Bakersfield announced the elimination of four intercollegiate sports, including men's wrestling. Saturday night, those sports put on a fundraising event that generated between $110,000 and $120,000, according to event sponsor estimates published in the Bakersfield Californian.

More than 400 attended the event at the Jam Events Center, which was organized to raise some of the money needed to save the four CSUB sports that have been earmarked for elimination by university President Horace Mitchell: wrestling, men's and women's golf and women's tennis.

On Saturday, fundraiser event organizations reported that a live auction generated $76,900. Another $3,354 was raised from a raffle and $13,683 from a silent auction.

According to new wrestling coach Mike Mendoza, about $1 million has been raised to date. Earlier this year, CSUB president Mitchell had said the endangered sports could be kept if $1.4 million could be raised to support the four programs for two years. At the time, a deadline of May 21 was set for a final decision.

Among the items up for auction were two all-inclusive trips to New England Patriots games home games (sold for $12,000 each), and a game-worn jersey for $5,000, donated by current Pat -- and CSUB alum -- Stephen Neal, who won two NCAA heavyweight titles as a Roadrunner wrestler in 1998 and 1999. (Neal won one of those championships by defeating current UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar, back when he was a University of Minnesota wrestler.)

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