2012 CAA Coach of the Year Pat Popolizio has been named the head coach at North Carolina State University after resigning from his post at Binghamton.
In his six years at the helm of the Bearcats, Popolizio built the squad into a top 20 program, which enjoyed perhaps its finest year in 2011-12. In addition to a program-best 14th place finish at the NCAA tournament in St. Louis, the team boasted a pair of All-Americans for the first time in junior Donnie Vinson (third at 149) and freshman Nick Gwiazdowski (eighth at 285). The team also went 15-4 in dual meets and swept the CAA Conference awards with Coach of the Year (Popolizio), Wrestler of the Year (Vinson) and Rookie of the Year (Gwiazdowski).
“The last six years have been, by far, the most exciting and rewarding in my life and I am very thankful for all of the support that everyone associated with this program has given,” Popolizio said in a message to Binghamton alumni, family and friends on Tuesday morning.
Binghamton Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott said that a national search will begin right away to find Popolizio’s successor.
“We wish Pat well in his new position,” Elliott said in the Binghamton press release. “He’s done an outstanding job here, building our program into one of the premier wrestling programs in the country. I want to thank him for his hard work and commitment to our student-athletes over the past six years.”
Popolizio believes the Bearcat program remains in good hands.
“With the current student-athletes and the new administration, I am confident that Binghamton’s future remains bright,” Popolizio said. “Pat Elliott showed his support and devotion by attending and cheering on the Bearcats at the NCAA tournament this year. Ed Scott, the Associate Director of Athletics for Student Services, will be supervising the wrestling program next year and I believe in his and Pat’s abilities to continue the success of this program.”
Popolizio, who coached 21 NCAA qualifiers and four All-Americans in his time in the CAA, takes over a Wolfpack program that was fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference a year ago with one All-American.
The former Oklahoma State wrestler cited “the tremendous facilities, strong tradition and huge potential” of the NC State program as some of the reasons for accepting the new position.