Tom Minkel will retire after coaching his 25th season at MSU in 2015-16; associate head coach Roger Chandler to lead program beginning in 2016-17.
Junior Michael McClure is the No. 8 seed at heavyweight.
Roger Chandler, who enters his 22nd year on the Spartan wrestling staff, is in his third year as head coach. He was named head coach designate by Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis on June 30, 2015.
Chandler officially took over as head coach following the 2015-16 season, as Tom Minkel retired after his 25th season at MSU. Chandler is the ninth coach in the history of the program, which dates back to 1886 and has generated 25 NCAA Champions, 68 Big Ten Champions, eight Big Ten Championships and one NCAA Championship.
“I’d like to thank Mark Hollis and the entire executive staff for giving me the opportunity to be the next head wrestling coach at Michigan State University,” said Chandler. “I’m truly honored and excited that they have placed their confidence in me to lead the program into the future.”
Chandler has helped produce 10 different All-Americans and six Big Ten Champions for a total of 22 All-America selections and nine Big Ten individual titles during his time at Michigan State. He also coached three-time All-American Franklin Gomez, who won a national title in 2009 at 133 pounds. In addition, he handles a variety of administrative duties for the program. Chandler, who began his coaching career as an assistant at MSU in 1997, was promoted to associate head coach in 2011.
Outside of his work at Michigan State, Chandler also has been instrumental in establishing and growing youth folkstyle wrestling in the state of Michigan and throughout the entire United States. Chandler serves as the president of the Michigan Youth Wrestling Association (MYWAY) and also the associate executive director of the National United Wrestling Association for Youth (NUWAY). Started in 1998 with 750 members, MYWAY now has more than 9,000 members, while NUWAY -- modeling the MYWAY system -- has expanded with organizations in 15 states.
Chandler also has international coaching experience, as he coached former Spartan assistant Alex Dolly, who represented Ireland, at the 2011 Freestyle World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
A three-time All-American at Indiana, Chandler was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. The IU Male Athlete of the Year in 1996-97, Chandler finished eighth at the NCAA Championships in 1995, third in 1996 and second in 1997. His only loss at the 1997 NCAA Championships came against Cary Kolat of Lock Haven, a two-time NCAA Champion and 1997 World Championship runner-up. The Big Ten Champion at 142 pounds in 1997, Chandler finished his Indiana career with a 134-25 record. He graduated from Indiana in 1997 with a degree in sport management.
While he was at St. Edward High School in Cleveland, Chandler was the 1992 Ohio state champion, wrestling on a team that produced 12 state champions and eight national champions. He ended his prep career with a 112-12 mark.
Chandler, whose first season at Michigan State was in 1997-98, also served as head coach of the Ohio Junior National Freestyle team in 1998 and 1999.
Chandler is a native of Sheffield Lake, Ohio. His wife, Mandy, is an associate director in Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) at Michigan State. The couple has two daughters, Kira and Kylee.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT Roger Chandler:
Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis
“I’m excited about the future of Michigan State wrestling. We’re thankful for everything that Coach Minkel has given to Michigan State and we’re looking forward to celebrating his exceptional career in the sport of wrestling during his final season. It’s also a year that affords Roger Chandler an opportunity to prepare for a successful transition.
“I had the fortune of being alongside Ron Mason as athletic director designate during his final months as athletic director at Michigan State (fall 2007), and I believe that experience was invaluable and helped me grow into my current position. Our men’s soccer coach Damon Rensing also had the privilege of serving as head coach designate under Joe Baum, which has undoubtedly served Damon well as the program continues to flourish under his direction. I believe this speaks to the family atmosphere at Michigan State in preparing individuals to take over leadership roles. There are plenty of examples on campus and in the department where this model has been rewarding, including our President Lou Anna Simon.
“While they have worked together for many years, Roger and Tom are uniquely different individuals. This is Coach Minkel’s team, but once the season comes to a close, we’re going to give Roger every opportunity to be successful. We’re going to take that celebration of Tom’s career and push it into a new era of Spartan wrestling, with Roger leading the way.
“I have high expectations for Roger to lead the program for the years to come. He has positive relationships with our student-athletes and also with young wrestlers and the wrestling community. Perhaps most importantly, he has learned how to do things the right way. I believe in Roger and his goals for the program, but we also need the support and commitment of the Spartan wrestling community to compete in the best wrestling conference in the country. With nearly 20 years of coaching experience, Roger has proved his selfless dedication to Michigan State wrestling, and I think the program will continue to benefit under his leadership.”
Michigan State head coach Tom Minkel:
“Roger Chandler has been on my staff for 18 years; we have certainly worked closely together for a long, long time. His career goal is to be a head coach, and I feel very comfortable that he’s totally ready to take over the position here. The next year will really be dedicated to making a smooth transition to Coach Chandler.
“Roger has certainly grown in the coaching profession after coming to Michigan State right after college. He has the essential qualities that you need as a head coach. He has a strong work ethic and possesses the fortitude and ability to stay motivated and focused. Secondly, he’s an outstanding wrestler himself. I don’t think at the collegiate level you can be an effective coach without being a great wrestler yourself, and he still has great technical skills in the wrestling room. Thirdly, you have to be able to teach and communicate with kids who are 18 to 23 years old. Roger is outstanding at that as well. There are also the administrative duties that come along with being a head coach, which he will no doubt handle effectively because he’s organized and very detailed. He clearly has the skill set to be a successful head coach.”
Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan:
“I was extremely happy to hear Roger will be given the opportunity to lead the Michigan State program after next season. He has certainly paid his dues, and has dedicated 18 years of his professional life to the University and wrestling program. Roger is a hardworking, intelligent and competitive guy that has a lot of experience at this level. Coupled with his own success as a competitor, I’m sure he has a concrete plan on how to get the most out of his team, and get them on a path of success. Personally, I have been friends with Roger for a long time, and know how much the Michigan State program means to him. Roger will do things the right way and I’m confident he will have a positive impact as the head coach.”
Former Spartan All-American and Adrian College head coach Chris Williams:
“I’m really happy for Roger and his family. He’s been extremely loyal to Michigan State and I’m happy he’s going to get the opportunity to be the next Spartan head coach.
“Roger does a lot of things that people outside the program are not aware of. He’s extremely organized, coordinates a lot of events, and helps give the student-athletes a great experience while they are at Michigan State.
“Roger was a phenomenal wrestler - he was a Big Ten Champion and three-time All-American - so he definitely has the knowledge and technical skills to help the athletes develop. He’s also very intense and very honest with the student-athletes. He’s definitely going to show you how to do something right.
“Having an opportunity to work with both Roger and Tom (Minkel) as an assistant coach (at MSU), I just really appreciated when I came in - they were both my coaches in college - they treated me as an equal right away. They didn’t seclude me from anything that was going on, they involved me right away. I never felt like I worked underneath either one of them, I felt like I worked alongside them and they valued my opinion. It was great to have that kind of support.”
Former Spartan wrestler and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans:
“I’m real excited for Roger. He was always one of those coaches who found a way to communicate and you could relate to. When I first came to Michigan State, Roger was one of the main guys who worked with me and made sure I was wrestling really well. He was my training partner too. He was more than a coach; he really took the time to get to know me.
“(Roger is) very detailed and he’s very competitive too. Don’t think that because you’re his underling, he’s going to take it easy on you. He goes hard and makes sure you do all of the techniques right. He’ll keep going over and over it with you until you get the technique, but at the same time, he’ll help you out.
“I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for my career at Michigan State. Those guys laid a really good foundation for me and helped me to achieve at another level. Just the mindset and the work ethic; Roger, Coach Minkel and (former assistant) Dave Dean, those guys didn’t let up for a second. That year where we almost won the Big Ten Championship (2003, finished third), that was a big year for us, and a lot of that was spearheaded a few years prior. It was just the work ethic that they made us do. They would have us come in and run and do work outs early, six in the morning, before we did anything else, then we went to class, and afterwards we would do the training. Everything was just regimented and the work level was expected.”
Former Spartan All-American and UFC fighter Gray Maynard:
“I’m definitely excited about the future of the Spartan wrestling team. Roger was one of the big reasons I chose Michigan State when looking at schools. His dedication and persistence is second to none. That attitude is what championships are made of.”
Former Spartan wrestler and Brighton High School head coach Tony Greathouse:
“Roger was the coach that I worked with most during my career at MSU. The thing that I liked the most was that he was a hands-on coach; I learned more in my five years from him than I learned in my whole life, and I’d been wrestling since I was 6 years old. A lot of the stuff that I do now from a coaching standpoint, and not just technique, but how I interact with my student-athletes and the way that I treat people, stems from my experiences with Roger.
“I’ve kept a close relationship with him and a lot of alumni have since they’ve graduated. It’s not just in wrestling; he’s a family person, he’s been successful with his business ventures, and he’s been successful as a leader in general. He’s also a really organized person and has tremendous leadership ability. That’s the biggest thing with being a head coach, really at any level, is being able to get the right people around the program, and being able to lead people in the right direction.
“The fact that Roger is going to be the next head coach is going to be phenomenal for the alumni, the community, and state of Michigan in general. He’s someone who is involved with wrestling at all levels, from the ground floor all the way up. Everyone across the state knows who he is and he has a great reputation.”
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