After an 8-12-2 dual meet record and a 17th place finish at nationals this season, Penn State wrestling coach Troy Sunderland informed the team of his resignation as head coach in an e-mail to the squad, sophomore wrestler Mike Lorenzo said Sunday.
At an end-of-the-year team awards banquet Sunday, Sunderland addressed the Nittany Lions and the other attendees, mainly thanking everybody for their hard work and wishing them good luck in the future, freshman wrestler Quentin Wright said.
A national search for Sunderland's successor has officially begun, according to a press release from the athletic department. Sunderland's resignation was officially announced Saturday morning.
Sunderland declined to comment when reached by telephone Sunday evening.
"I am proud of what we've accomplished at Penn State during my tenure as head coach," Sunderland said in the press release. "While we did not achieve the ultimate goal of winning a national title, I feel that this program is on the cusp of accomplishing that elusive goal. I am pleased with where this program is headed and wish the next coach here the best of luck as the Penn State wrestling family continues to strive for the national title."
Rich Lorenzo, who coached Sunderland as Penn State's coach from 1979 to 1992, said Sunderland showed a lot of class in his speech and his devotion to the program throughout his tenure never wavered.
"There's such a strong and long tradition with the wrestling program for being very, very competitive on the national level year in and year out," Rich Lorenzo said. "I think Troy has had a period of time where he's worked his hardest and did his very, very best. He can go through his lifetime thinking, 'I had the opportunity and I did what I can do.' "
In his 11 seasons as head coach of the Lions, Sunderland's squad placed in the top-10 four times at the NCAA Tournament, but also finished 16th, 23rd, 25th and 35th in four different seasons. Before his tenure, the last time the Lions had finished outside the top 20 was in 1980.
"It's something Troy felt he had to do," Penn State assistant coach Aaron Anspach said. "He felt like it was time for him to move on. His time had come to an end here. He was ready to close this chapter as far as coaching and maybe move on to something else."
With the immediate search for a successor underway, the wrestlers said they have no preference in whom the athletic department hires. Rich Lorenzo said Penn State needs to bring in somebody with integrity and who is genuinely interested in bringing Penn State back into the top-five national programs.
Wright and senior Tim Haas said the team needs a coach who wants to put in the work and dedication to get the Lions to the top.
Wright said the athletic department and the assistant coaches will call a team meeting later in the week to explain the details that went into Sunderland's decision to resign.
"It definitely has a lot of people wondering where we're headed who's coming in, but it also means a lot of us gotta look down and see it in ourselves to be leaders and get this program back on top," Mike Lorenzo said.
With it still unknown who will take over the head coaching position, Anspach said the current assistant coaches' positions are "up in the air." He said whoever gets the job will get to choose who is on his coaching staff, and that could or could not include them.
Penn State assistant coach Mark Perry said this situation is typical in the field of coaching. He said he is trying not to worry too much about his job security as he has already been offered coaching positions at other schools.
"It's not really about me. I would love to be at Penn State, but I'm not going to be broken-hearted or bitter if it doesn't happen that way," Perry said. "That's how coaching works, I'm not worried."
Collegian staff writer Nate Mink contributed to this article.