Pat Whitcomb lifts Taylor Kornoely after winning the NCAA title at heavyweight (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
Pat Whitcomb is out as head wrestling coach at No. 4-ranked North Idaho College, the school in Coeur d' Alene announced Thursday afternoon.
Whitcomb, who had led NIC to four NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) team titles in 22 years at the helm, was a subject of what school referred to as "an academic integrity investigation" within NIC's athletic department.
"Head wrestling coach Pat Whitcomb is no longer employed at NIC," Laura Rumpler, NIC's chief communications and government relations officer, confirmed to the Coeur d' Alene Press. "We wish him the best in his future endeavors and thank him for the impact that he's had at NIC."
Rumpler said she couldn't say whether Whitcomb was fired or resigned because legalities don't allow her to divulge such information without the employee's consent.
She added that assistant coach Keri Stanley remains on paid administrative leave, information she said she could share because Stanley gave NIC permission to release it.
The cloud over coach Whitcomb had been lingering for a couple weeks. Back on Jan. 8, the Spokane (Washington) Spokesman-Review reported that the long-time coach -- who had wrestled for NIC in the 1980s -- had been fired, a story which school administrators denied at the time. However, later that week, the school benched Whitcomb and Stanley, naming remaining assistant Brandon Richardson as interim head coach.
Whitcomb's biography at the official North Idaho College Cardinals wrestling website has been removed. Bios for Stanley and Richardson remain.
In a statement to The Press last week, Whitcomb said: "I am very proud of my career at NIC both as an athlete and a coach. But I've never been afraid to fight for what's right -- on or off the mat. I wish all of the wonderful athletes, staff and faculty I have had the pleasure of working with at NIC the very best. I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to our amazing community for all of their support over the years."
With Whitcomb as head coach, NIC could claim 18 individual national champions and 108 All-Americans. He was honored as National Coach of the Year twice and Region 18 Coach of the Year eight times. Whitcomb is a member of the NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame and NIC Hall of Fame.
As a wrestler, Whitcomb won national titles for NIC in 1986 and 1987.
North Idaho wrestling is tied with Iowa Central Community College for fourth place in the latest NJCAA team rankings, according to InterMat.
Founded in 1933, North Idaho College is a public, two-year community college located in Coeur d'Alene. It has a total enrollment of approximately 7,800 students.