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Zalesky out as Iowa wrestling coach

IOWA CITY - University of Iowa Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby announced Wednesday that Jim Zalesky's contract as head coach of the UI wrestling program will not be renewed and that the search for his replacement will begin immediately.

Zalesky, a four-time all-American and a three-time NCAA champion for the UI in the early 1980s, just completed his ninth season as head coach of the Hawkeyes. Iowa finished in sixth place at the 2006 Big Ten Conference Championships and in fourth place at this year's NCAA Championships. Iowa did not have an individual champion at either event for the second consecutive year.

"As we do each year with every sport, we have completed an evaluation of all aspects of our wrestling program. This year's process comes in the aftermath of one of our least successful dual meet seasons in recent history and after our lowest finish in the Big Ten Championship in 39 years," said Bowlsby.

"Regretfully, we have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership within our wrestling program. Fred Mims and I have met with Jim and his staff and we notified them that we will immediately commence the search to identify and hire that new leadership."

"I want to thank Jim and his staff for their efforts and I want to acknowledge the success they have helped to achieve," added Bowlsby. "Unfortunately, at this point in time it is not arguable that we are making the kind of progress that will once again place our program among the elite in the sport."

"I have the utmost respect for Jim and his staff," said Mims, an associate athletics director at the UI and the staff member to whom Zalesky reports on a daily basis.

"Jim has contributed much to the athletics program at the University of Iowa as a student-athlete and as a member of our coaching staff. It is unfortunate that in recent years the program has not met the expectations we all have for wrestling at the UI."

Zalesky's teams compiled a 127-34 dual meet record, a mark that included wins in 56 of 75 matches against Big Ten opponents. However, Iowa's dual meet records in 2005-06 were 11-7 overall and 4-4 against league opponents. This year's record against Big Ten opponents follows records of 5-3 in 2004-05, 6-2 in 2003-04 and 7-1 in 2002-03.

Iowa won the national championship in each of Zalesky's first three seasons (1998, 1999 and 2000) as the UI's head coach. The Hawkeyes finished second in 2001 and again in 2004. Iowa finished in seventh place in the 2005 national meet.

"We will move just as quickly and efficiently as we can to focus on those candidates around the country who possess the talent and experience to lead our program back to its traditional position of prominence within the Big Ten and at the national level," said Bowlsby.

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