Pitt wrestling coach Rande Stottlemyer announced his retirement today, though he will remain with the athletic department as the Senior Advisor for Olympic Sports. He will be replaced by Jason Peters, an assistant at Pitt the past 10 seasons who was designated the program's head coach-in-waiting last fall.
Stottlemyer was a three-time All-American wrestler for the Panthers from 1974-78 and was an assistant coach with the program in 1978 before taking over as head coach in 1979.
He compiled a record of 304-203-12 over 34 seasons and is the winningest coach in Pitt wrestling history.
"I would like to thank the University of Pittsburgh for the great opportunity they gave me as a young man, fresh out of college," Stottlemyer said in a news release. "I have been blessed to have lived my passion for thirty-five years. I hope in that time I have been able to make a positive impact on a lot of young men's lives. It has been an honor to be their coach and to promote the great sport of wrestling.
"I am deeply indebted to Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Athletic Director Steve Pederson and Executive Associate Athletic Director Donna Sanft for their leadership and support. Thank you to all my co-workers, assistant coaches and wrestlers who over the years have given so much of themselves to make our success possible. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, daughters, family, and friends for always being there for me."
Stottlemyer is retiring at a time when the program is in the midst of one of its best stretches as the Panthers have won three Eastern Wrestling League regular season and three Eastern Wrestling League Tournament titles in the past four years and finished ranked No. 15 in each of the past two seasons.
The Panthers under Stottlemyer, who is a five-time EWL coach of the year, have produced 56 EWL individual champions, 33 All-Americans and three national champions.
"Very few coaches retire at the top of their game and yet Rande Stottlemyer is doing just that," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. "Not only has Rande led our wrestling program to the top of the Eastern Wrestling League but he is also held in the highest regard by everyone in our athletic department. It would be hard to sufficiently put into words what Rande has meant to Pitt and to each of us individually.
"I am pleased that he has agreed to assist me in our transition to the ACC as his experience and guidance will be invaluable. Rande also built a coaching staff that is ready to take this program into a new conference and continue its legacy of success."
Stottlemyer believes the program isn't going to miss a beat under the direction of Peters and assistant Matt Kocher, who has been with the program the last four seasons, and he said he thinks the two will lead it to an even higher level in the ACC.
"Our program will continue to move forward under the guidance of Jason Peters and Matt Kocher," Stottlemyer said. "They have both been exemplary in their work ethic and commitment during their time at Pitt."
Pederson added, "In Rande's opinion, as well as mine, we could not make a better choice than to elevate Jason Peters to the role of head wrestling coach at Pitt. The added bonus of Matt Kocher staying as the top assistant makes this a special time. We are all committed to helping Jason succeed and we are excited to watch his tenure as the leader of this program. As always, our staff will rally behind Jason, Matt and our student-athletes to make this a great transition."
Stottlemyer, who graduated from Hickory high school and was a PIAA runner-up his senior year, has had eight of his athletes honored as recipients of the Blue-Gold or Panther Awards and had their names permanently etched in the stone on the sidewalk leading between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel.
Also, two of Stottlemyer's former wrestlers were the recipients of the prestigious Omicron Delta Kappa Award, presented annually to the outstanding senior student at Pitt.
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter: @paulzeise