Lars Jensen (far right) has been affiliated with San Francisco State for four decades (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Lars Jensen, who has been affiliated with San Francisco State University as a wrestler and coach for four decades, is no longer at the helm of the Gator wrestling program, the long-time head coach at the NCAA Division II program confirmed to InterMat Monday afternoon.
"The athletic director Charles Guthrie and Vice President for Advancement Robert Nava came into my office for my evaluation," said Jensen. "They basically said, 'We're opening up the position and you're welcome to apply.'"
"I handed them my resume and qualifications, and said I wanted to re-apply for the job."
The job opening for head wrestling coach at SFSU has been posted at an NCAA jobs website, and Jensen's bio was deleted from the official coaches' listing at the official Gators wrestling website for the 2017-18 season. The current coaches' page only provides a link to the bio for Isaiah Jimenez, listed as "wrestling coach."
When contacted by InterMat last Friday for confirmation of Jensen's dismissal, Charles Guthrie issued the following statement via email: "SFSU has nothing to report. If something changes -- we'll let you know."
"I am very embarrassed for the school," said Jensen, who first came to San Francisco State as a wrestler in 1977, having transferred after two years of wrestling at College of San Mateo, then, after serving as an assistant coach, was promoted to head coach at the beginning of the 1983-84 season.
"Only one other coach who was here three years ago is still here."
When asked if opening up his position might be SFSU administrators' first step to axing wrestling, Jensen replied, "The school has assured me that this is not a prelude to the elimination of the program here." (That said, at another point in the interview, Jensen disclosed that the school had tried to drop the program back in 1994, "but that lasted less than eight hours.")
Jensen is heartened by the support he has received in recent days.
"There's been a tremendous outpouring of support from fans, alumni and the wrestling community," said Jensen. "Many -- especially among our wrestling alumni -- are upset."
"I want to be sure to thank all my athletes and assistant coaches who I've had the honor to work with over the years," Jensen added. "I have been blessed by the quality of the individuals I've worked with in this position."
Lars Jensen ranks as one of the longest-serving college wrestling coaches in the nation. During his time at the helm, Jensen became the only coach in any sport to bring a national title to SFSU (in 1997). In more than 33 years as head coach, Jensen could claim ten NCAA Division II individual champions and 62 NCAA All-Americans. In addition to on-the-mat success, Jensen coached 65 wrestlers to All-Academic honors.
Jensen has been enshrined in at least a half-dozen halls of fame, including the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame, the California Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the San Francisco State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Founded in 1899, San Francisco State has a total enrollment of 39,000 students. Wrestling is one of a dozen intercollegiate sports competing in NCAA Division II.