Rob Koll named North Carolina head wrestling coach

by Gary Jon Paczesny, UNC Athletics

Rob Koll Graphic. (Photo by UNC Athletics)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Rob Koll, a 1988 national champion wrestler at the University of North Carolina who has coached 74 All-Americas, has been named the head coach of Carolina’s wrestling program. Koll becomes the seventh head coach in team history and returns to his alma mater after spending the last two seasons at Stanford and the previous 28 as the head coach at Cornell.

“Rob is a proven winner both on the mat and as a coach, and he has an outstanding track record of recruiting great student-athletes dedicated to their sport, the classroom and the community,’’ said UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “He is a strong leader who loves his alma mater and will be a terrific role model for students. Rob also will be a great ambassador for the program with fans, alumni and fellow coaches. We are happy to welcome him back to Carolina.”

The program’s first four-time All-America from 1985-88, Koll graduated with a career record of 155-20-1, the most wins in program and Atlantic Coast Conference history. Koll was a three-time ACC champion at 158 pounds and capped off his Carolina career with the program’s second ever individual national championship in 1988.

“Ever since Coach (Bill) Lam brought me to campus for the first time in 1984, I’ve been preparing for this opportunity,” Koll said. “There’s no school in the country that offers Carolina’s combination of academic and athletic dominance, along with the outstanding campus and community that Chapel Hill has to offer. I’m grateful to the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham giving me the opportunity to return home to my alma mater. I’m excited to get to work every day with our outstanding student-athletes, as we strive to achieve success in the ACC and on a national level.”

Koll began his coaching career at Cornell, where he served as an assistant for four seasons, before being named the head coach at Cornell in 1993. While in Ithaca, Koll collected a dual record of 317-101-5, including a 125-9-1 mark in Ivy League dual action. Koll’s teams won 20 Ivy League championships while producing 177 NCAA Championship qualifiers, 71 All-Americas, and 16 NCAA individual national championships.

For 17 straight seasons, at least three Cornell wrestlers reached the All-America podium under Koll, including one NCAA champion in 10 of the last 12 years he was at Cornell.

Koll’s success at Cornell expanded much more than his student-athletes’ success on the mat and in the classroom. While leading the Big Red, Koll played an instrumental part in the opening of The Friedman Wrestling Center in 2002, the nation’s only stand-alone collegiate wrestling facility.

In May of 2021, Koll was named the 31st head coach in program history at Stanford. During his two years with the Cardinal, Koll mentored three All-Americas and three Pac-12 champions. In his first season out west, Koll helped Stanford to a top-20 finish at the 2022 NCAA Championships, as the program posted multiple All-Americas for the first time since 2016.

In addition to the success of Koll’s wrestlers on the mat, Stanford wrestlers earned 11 National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-America honors during his two seasons.

Koll and his wife Rachel have two sons, William and Daniel, who both wrestled for him at Cornell. A native of State College, Pa., Koll is the son of the late Bill Koll, a three-time NCAA champion and the head coach at Penn State from 1965-78.

Koll’s Coaching Career By The Numbers

  • 1 Hodge Trophy winner
  • 15 Top-10 NCAA team finishes
  • 16 NCAA individual national champions
  • 20 Ivy League championships
  • 24 NCAA finalists
  • 74 All-Americas185 NCAA qualifiers