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Rod Wilt ’86 and his wife, Jill ’85, make historic gift to wrestling program

 

Rod Wilt ’86 and his wife, Jill ’85, make historic gift to wrestling program

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College announced Saturday evening a historic commitment to the Thiel wrestling program.

Thiel Athletic Hall of Fame member Rod Wilt '86 (above, center) and his wife, Jill (Gardner) Wilt '85  are giving a $500,000 donation to endow the head wrestling coach position at the College.

It is the largest donation to any single athletic program in Thiel history, and the first endowed coaching position in the history of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

As a result of the gift, the head wrestling coach position will be known as the Rod E. Wilt ’86 Head Coach for Thiel College Wrestling.

“Jill and I are thrilled to be able to make this gift to bring long-term stability and leadership to the Thiel wrestling program. We have been inspired by all of the alumni and friends of Thiel who have given so generously over the years,” Rod Wilt said. “We hope that this gift will lead to many future opportunities for student-athletes to compete at a high level while pursuing an education that will prepare them for a lifetime of success.”

Wilt compiled a three-year wrestling record of 75-16, including consecutive 31-3 records his junior and senior seasons. Wrestling at 167 pounds, he was a three-time NCAA national qualifier and twice earned All-American status.

As a junior, Wilt set a then Thiel-record with 25 consecutive wins. After winning his first PAC title, he became an All-American by placing second at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.

In 1986, he was selected the PAC Most Valuable Wrestler at the conference championships while again winning the 167-pound weight class. He won the NCAA Regional title and earned All-American status for the second time by placing third at the national championships in 1986, the same year that he earned Academic All-American status. Wilt was inducted into the Thiel College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.

Rod and Jill met at Thiel and have remained active with their alma mater throughout their professional careers. In 1996, Rod Wilt was elected to represent the 17th legislative district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, a position he held for a decade. Jill Wilt previously served as Thiel College Alumni Director and was a past member of the Alumni Board of Directors.

“Rod and Jill’s extraordinary generosity is a monumental statement about the commitment our alumni have to student success at Thiel College, both in academics and athletics,” President Troy D. VanAken (above, right) said. “This endowed position, the first in the 60-plus year history of the conference, is a point of Tomcat pride that every student and athlete on campus can share.”

Also pictured: Director of Athletics Jack Leipheimer '74 (above, left).


About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 25 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio to more than 900 students. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.


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