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USA Wrestling to Form Committees for COVID-19

USA Wrestling forms four special committees to deal with specific issues caused by COVID-19 pandemic
For release, May 14, 2020

USA Wrestling forms four special committees to deal with specific issues caused by COVID-19 pandemic


USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States, has formed four committees to deal with specific issues facing the organization and the sport caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


These committees include numerous experienced professionals in a variety of industries who have chosen to volunteer their time and expertise to assist USA Wrestling and the sport of wrestling as it navigates through these extraordinary times.


“USA Wrestling is tremendously grateful and blessed that these talented leaders are willing to step up for wrestling at this time. All have a passion for the sport and a commitment to help guide our organization in its decision-making process. With this assistance, our sport will have the best possible direction to help us get through the current situation and emerge successfully, with a clear vision for the future,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender.


Each committee is currently led by a USA Wrestling Staff Liaison, who is responsible for organizing regular meetings and providing the information and support necessary to allow the committee to do its important work.


The first committee created by USA Wrestling was its COVID-19 Advisory Committee, which is advising USA Wrestling on all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with special focus on the medical, scientific and government aspect of the situation. Experts on the committee include Dr. Tom Price, past U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; renowned mathematician and business leader Dr. Neil Chriss, past Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services John Bardis and Hall of Fame wrestling physician Dr. Bernard Feldman. USA Wrestling President Bruce Baumgartner and Wrestle Like A Girl CEO Sally Roberts are also serving. World bronze medalist Mallory Velte is the athlete on this committee. This committee has been meeting and advising USA Wrestling since early March, with Executive Director Rich Bender as the staff liaison.


Another active committee has been the Return to Practice and Competition Committee, which includes medical experts as well as wrestling event leaders. Dr. B.J. Anderson, team physician for Augsburg wrestling, as well as athletic trainers Tim Koberna of Hope University and Corey James of USA Wrestling, are lending the medical and scientific advice, along with successful wrestling event directors Randall Balch and Rob Cate. Tom Kuisle, a respected wrestling referee and also an event director, also serves with this committee. The athlete on the committee is 2018 World silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt. The staff liaison is Events Director Pete Isais.


The two other committees have begun their service to the sport and will begin formal meetings within the next week.


Due to the potential challenges to college wrestling due to the pandemic, the Collegiate Wrestling COVID-19 Sustainability Planning Committee has been developed, a mix of college athletic administrators and coaches, plus USA Wrestling and sport industry leaders. Athletic Director Billy Walker of American University, Senior Associate Athletics Director Karen Langston of CSU-Bakersfield and Executive Director for Compliance Jason Leonard of the University of Oklahoma are top college administrators, along with North Carolina State head wrestling coach Pat Popolizio. USA Wrestling is represented by President Bruce Baumgartner (who is retired from Edinboro University where he was athletic director), Executive Director Rich Bender and National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick. Sports industry leaders include NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer, USOPC Director of Collegiate Partnerships Sarah Wilhelmi and UWW Senior Manager of Media Operations Tim Foley. Wrestling legend, past Iowa head coach and Olympic champion Dan Gable serves on the committee. Olympic and World champions Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder are the athletes who are serving. The staff liaison is High Performance Manager Cody Bickley.


The Public Relations and Messaging Committee brings together numerous respected public relations professionals from a variety of industries, along with medical and athlete representation. The communications experts include Roger Frizzell, the Chief Communications Officer for Carnival Organization & PLC; retired USOPC Director of Media Services Bob Condron, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Operations Director Jack Carnefix; Professor of Strategic Communications Joe Favorito of Columbia University; Associate Director of Athletic Communications Chris Brewer of the University of Iowa; UWW Senior Manager of Media Relations Tim Foley; and National Wrestling Hall of Fame Operations Director Jack Carnefix. The medical expert is Dr. Michael Baria, Assistant Professor of The Ohio State University Sports Medicine Institute. Athletes include 2012 Olympian Ellis Coleman and 2008 University World champion Katherine Shai. USA Wrestling staff leaders Communications Manager Taylor Miller, Director of Sales and Marketing Ryan Johnson and Communications Coordinator Mike Willis are on the committee. Director of Communications Gary Abbott is the staff liaison.


Each of these committees will invite other participants when appropriate. Additional committees could be formed as needs are identified within USA Wrestling during the pandemic. These are separate committees from the USA Wrestling standing committees and councils, as well as the ad-hoc committees, which handle other specific USA Wrestling business.



As of May 13, 2020



Bruce Baumgartner, USA Wrestling President, 2x Olympic champion, 3x World champion,

John Bardis, past U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, longtime USA Wrestling leader who has had a successful career in the medical industry.

Dr. Neil Chriss, renowned mathematician, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Hutchin Hill Capital, Executive Committee member for Math for America

Dr. Bernard Feldman, UWW Medical Commission member and Hall of Fame wrestling physician

Dr. Tom Price, a physician who is a past U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and past member of the U.S. Congress

Sally Roberts, Founder and CEO, Wrestle Like A Girl, 2x World bronze medalist

Mallory Velte, Athlete, 2018 World bronze medalist, member of USA Wrestling Board of Directors

Staff Liaison – Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director

Regular participants

USA Wrestling staff directors



Bruce Baumgartner, USA Wrestling President, 2x Olympic champion, 3x World champion,

Jordan Burroughs, Athlete, Olympic champion and 4x World champion, wrestled for Nebraska

Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director

Tim Foley, United World Wrestling Senior Manager of Media Operations, wrestled for Virginia

Dan Gable, Hall of Fame Ambassador, Retired head coach at Univ. of Iowa, Olympic and World champion

Karen Langston, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs & Capital Projects, CSU Bakersfield

Jason Leonard, Executive Director of Compliance, Univ of Oklahoma

Mike Moyer, NWCA Executive Director

Pat Popolizio, Head Coach for North Carolina State and NWCA President

Kyle Snyder, Athlete, Olympic champion and 2x World champion, wrestled for Ohio State

Billy Walker, Athletic Director at American Univ.; past Commissioner of Western Wrestling Conference

Sarah Wilhelmi, USOPC Director of Collegiate Partnerships, past NCAA employee

Bill Zadick, USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach, World champion, wrestled for Iowa

Staff Liaison – Cody Bickley, USA Wrestling High Performance Manager



Dr. Michael Baria, Assistant professor of The Ohio State University Sports Medicine Institute, USA Wrestling volunteer physician, and college wrestler for Harvard

Chris Brewer, Associate Director of Athletic Communications, University of Iowa; Press Chief of 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Operations Director, former Senior Manager of Public Relations for Professional Bull Riders, former Senior Vice President of Communications for ECHL

Ellis Coleman, Athlete, 2012 Greco-Roman Olympian, active service in the U.S. Army

Bob Condron, retired USOPC Director of Media Services and United World Wrestling Press Officer; co-Press Chief of 2015 World Wrestling Championships, IOC Press Commission for 10 years

Joe Favorito – Respected communications executive with over 30 years of experience in variety of areas; author, professor of strategic communications at Columbia University,

Roger Frizzell, Chief Communications Officer for Carnival Organization & PLC, previous communications executive for Pacific Gas & Electric and American Airlines, four-time All-American wrestler for Oklahoma

Tim Foley, United World Wrestling Senior Manager of Media Operations

Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling Communications Manager

Ryan Johnson, USA Wrestling Director of Sales and Marketing

Katherine Shai, Athlete, University World champion, Founder of Lucha Fit

Mike Willis, USA Wrestling Communications Coordinator

Staff Liaison – Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling Director of Communications and Special Projects



Dr. B.J. Anderson, Team Physician for Augsburg wrestling, past member of NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee

Randall Balch, Event Director of USA Wrestling Women’s Nationals, past state chairperson Texas USA Wrestling

Rob Cate, Chairman of USA Wrestling Folkstyle Committee, Event Director of Open Wrestling Championships

Sarah Hildebrandt, Athlete, 2018 World silver medalist, USOPTC resident athlete

Tim Koberna, Athletic Trainer at Hope University

Tom Kuisle, USWOA Board member at large, Event Director of numerous USA Wrestling competitions

Corey James, USA Wrestling National Teams Athletic Trainer, previously Assistant Athletic Trainer at Duke University, internships with San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers, graduate assistant at Stanford

Staff Liaison – Pete Isais, USA Wrestling Director of National Events

Regular participants

USA Wrestling Events and National Teams staff