New Concordia coach Levi Calhoun (left) and departing coach Andrew Nicola
Hours after Andrew Nicola posted on Facebook that he had been let go as head wrestling coach at Concordia University, the Nebraska-based school issued an official statement Wednesday, naming former assistant coach Levi Calhoun to head up the program.
Nicola, who had taken the helm at Concordia in November 2016, wrote: "It is with a heavy heart that I am informing everyone I have been fired as the head wrestling coach at Concordia University.
"I don't have much to say except that I wish my great friend Coach Calhoun continued success as he takes on this role and I trust he will do an incredible job. He loves these young men just as I do."
Calhoun brings seven seasons of experience as an assistant coach at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) level, including three at Concordia, to his new position as head coach.
Calhoun has collaborated on some of Concordia's most successful seasons since the program was reinstated in 2009. The 2015-16 team won GPAC/NAIA North Qualifier championships and recorded an eighth-place national championships finish, the highest ever for the program. Over his three seasons with the Bulldogs, Calhoun has coached six All-Americans, including 2016 national champion Andrew Schulte and 2017 national runner up Ceron Francisco. Giovanni Castillo became the program's latest All-American this past March. Furthermore, the 2015-16 and 2016-17 squads that Calhoun assisted on went a combined 14-0 in GPAC duals.
"In the three seasons that Coach Calhoun has spent with us at Concordia, he has shown considerable growth both personally and professionally," said Athletics Director Devin Smith. "He has learned from unique settings and a variety of coaches. He has the knowledge of and passion for the sport, the drive to succeed and the value systems that we look for in our head coaches. We are confident that Levi will represent our athletic department and university in a Christ-like manner and move our championship wrestling program forward as we embody the core values of the Concordia Athletic Department."
Prior to being hired by former Concordia head coach Dana Vote in 2015, Calhoun spent the previous four seasons as assistant wrestling coach at Baker University, his collegiate alma mater. During his time as an assistant at Baker, Calhoun coached 11 All-Americans, three national finalists and a national champion. As a student-athlete at the Baldwin City, Kan. school, Calhoun became the school's first NAIA All-American wrestler, and was also on the defensive line for the football team.
Calhoun expressed his appreciation for the promotion.
"I'd first like to thank President (Brian) Friedrich, Devin Smith and Angela Muller for this incredible opportunity," Calhoun said. "Thanks must also go out to my wife, Hollie, and my parents who have supported me throughout my athletic and coaching careers. I am beyond excited to take over this program and continue to be a part of the Bulldog Family. I have been blessed to have been mentored by some great leaders in my time as an assistant coach. Each has played a role in preparing me to be a head coach. We have an incredible group of young men returning as well as a promising recruiting class that we will continue to build throughout the coming months. Our current and future student-athletes will strive to achieve academic excellence, competitive greatness, as well as live their lives on and off the mat as men of Christian character."
Located in Seward, Nebraska, Concordia University is a four-year, private school affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Concordia has an enrollment of approximately 2,700 students.