Matt Azevedo (Photo/Drexel University)
PHILADELPHIA -- Drexel University Athletics announced today the creation of the Mert and Joanne Hill Head Wrestling Coach position -- the first named male coaching position at Drexel. The endowment was made possible through a substantial and meaningful commitment made by two Drexel alumni, Albert "Mert" Hill '67 and Joanne Hill '69.
"Our wrestling program has a very rich and proud history," Drexel University Director of Athletics Dr. Eric Zillmer said. "I am certain that we have one of the brightest and most innovative minds in college wrestling in Matt Azevedo. Endowing the Drexel Wrestling head coaching position ensures that our program will be one of the top teams nationally."
Mert and Joanne Hill (Photo/Drexel Athletics)
"The support Mert and Joanne have provided the Drexel wrestling program is truly transformational," Drexel University Assistant Vice President of Development Kerry DiBlasio said. "We are so thankful for their generosity and are appreciative of their leadership in taking our wrestling program to the next level. We are extremely proud to name our head coaching position after Mert and Joanne".
Mert Hill graduated from the College of Engineering in 1967 and competed for Drexel Wrestling from 1962 to 1966. He received the F.C. Walton Award in 1966 as the program's most valuable performer and served as co-captain that year as well. Joanne Hill is a 1969 graduate of the College of Home Economics. The couple currently resides in San Diego.
"I am so thankful for Mert and Joanne Hill's unparalleled excitement and generosity towards the Drexel wrestling program," Mert and Joanne Hill Head Coach of Wrestling Matt Azevedo said. "Endowing the position is a landmark moment for the program, and this gift will have a tremendous impact on our wrestlers for generations to come."
The family has been a long-time financial champion of the Drexel wrestling program and made a prior commitment to the Jack Childs Wrestling Room.
"It has been a pleasure getting to know Coach Azevedo during his time at Drexel and seeing the success the program has had," Mert Hill said. "The job that he has done with the program is to be commended, and we are honored to support him in this generous way."
Now in his ninth season in University City, Azevedo is the eighth head coach in program history and replaced Drexel Hall of Famer Jack Childs in 2011. Azevedo led the Dragons to their first appearance in the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll during the 2016-17 season and has guided 28 wrestlers to qualification for the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Academically, the Dragons have enjoyed unrivaled success under Azevedo's watch. Drexel has finished as an NWCA Division I Top 30 All-Academic Team for six-straight seasons and owned the highest grade-point average (3.63) among Division I wrestling teams in 2019.
"The Hills have supported this team and our vision since the day I got here, so I think it is fitting that Mert and Joanne's names will be forever tied to Drexel Wrestling," Azevedo said.