Stevens, familiar voice of numerous major amateur wrestling events including NCAA championships, revealed the news at her Facebook page this past week.
Sandy Stevens (Photo/Larry Slater)"I was notified today [Wednesday, Oct. 21] that the NCAA and NYC LOC [Local Organizing Committee] have chosen to go in a 'different direction' for the 2016 Div. I Championships; after 34 years, my announcing voice is no longer included," wrote Stevens. "I am sad and deeply disappointed, but I thank the administrators, fans, officials, volunteers, coaches, and wrestlers with whom I've worked, many of whom have become friends. You have blessed me."
As of Sunday, over 200 individuals -- including some top college wrestlers of the past -- had weighed in with their comments on the decision at Stevens' Facebook page ... some with specific memories of her calling their NCAA matches, many with words of encouragement, and a good portion expressing their displeasure (or perhaps in stronger terms).
"She is the most recognized voice in American wrestling -- 34 consecutive Division I Championships, The Olympic Trials and the '96 Olympics, Fargo and on and on. Who is better?" wrote Jim Brown, a tireless amateur wrestling supporter based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on his Facebook page. "That isn't even close to the whole story. Few people in this country do more for the growth of wrestling -- most of it done behind the scenes. She truly is 'The First Lady of Wrestling' regardless of this insane decision."
Back in May, when Stevens announced the establishment of the Bear and Sandy Stevens Head Wrestling Coach Endowment for her alma mater, University of Northern Iowa -- with funds designated to support the salary of the Panthers wrestling coach position -- she told the story of how she launched her eventual career as "the voice of amateur wrestling."
"UNI provided Bear (her late husband) with the knowledge and the philosophy of teaching and coaching this sport," said Sandy Stevens. "Bear was able to take that and touch the lives of students. And if he hadn't been a coach, I would never have started announcing."
"Bear came home and said he didn't have an announcer for the night," said Stevens. "He told me, 'Since you know about wrestling and will be there anyway, can you just sit at the microphone and welcome the wrestlers to the mats?'"
That was nearly 45 years ago. Since then, Sandy Stevens has served as a wrestling announcer for events at all levels of competition, including high school tournaments, NCAA championships, and the Olympics. Her work has been honored in numerous ways, having received the Order of Merit from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Meritorious Service Award from the National Wrestling Coaches Association and the International "Exceptionelle" ranking from United World Wrestling.