Brands Named Virginia Tech Wrestling Coach
Olympic coach to take over Hokies' program
June 9, 2004

Watch an archive of the press conference at BLACKSBURG - Three-time NCAA national champion and 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Tom Brands will be the new head coach of the Virginia Tech wrestling squad, as announced Wednesday by director of athletics Jim Weaver.

Brands becomes the 11th man to lead the Tech program since its inception in 1920 and comes to Blacksburg after spending 12 years as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa, his alma mater. While an assistant coach at Iowa, Brands saw the Hawkeyes win seven NCAA team titles and 23 Iowa wrestlers crowned as individual national champions.

Brands brings instant credibility to the position as Tech's wrestling coach and will lead the Hokies into their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Sheldon, Iowa, native won the 1996 Olympic freestyle 136.5-pound gold medal in Atlanta, Ga. There, he outscored four Olympic opponents 19-1 and beat Korea's Jae Sung Jang 7-0 in the gold medal match.

He also won a gold medal at the 1993 World Freestyle Championships in Toronto, Canada. Between 1993-96, Brands was the top U.S. wrestler at his weight class and represented the United States in numerous major international events. This summer, he will be a coach for the U.S. Olympic Team in freestyle wrestling, participating in the Athens Games.

He was named NWCA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000, and served as assistant coach for the 2002 and 2003 U.S. Freestyle World Teams. The 2003 team placed a strong second at the World Championships in New York City, led by two silver medalists. The 2002 team was scheduled to compete in Tehran, Iran. A day before the team was to leave for the competition, the U.S. government contacted USA Wrestling with information about a threat of violence against the team. USA Wrestling decided not to attend the World Championships because of that threat.

Brands was a member of the U.S. coaching staff at the 2001 World Championships, and has coached a number of other U.S. teams in international competition. Before coming to Blacksburg, Brands was a club coach with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, one of the nation's top freestyle wrestling clubs. He was named the 2002 and 2003 Freestyle Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001.

He won two World Cup gold medals (1994 and 1995) and was the 1995 Pan American Games champion. He also claimed four U.S. Nationals titles (1993-96) and made four straight U.S. World or Olympic teams (1993-96). Along with his twin brother, Terry, he was named 1993 USA Wrestling Athlete of the Year, the 1993 John Smith Outstanding Freestyle Wrestler, and 1993 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year. Terry is the head wrestling coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Brands was a three-time NCAA Division I champion at the University of Iowa, where he wrestled from 1990-92 and was named Outstanding Wrestler of the 1992 NCAA Championships. He was a four-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion, recording a career mark of 158-7-2, including an undefeated season in 1991, where he went 45-0.

Brands earned his B.S. in physical education from Iowa in 1992. He and his wife, Jeni, have two daughters, Madigan and Kinsee, and a son, Tommy.

Brands replaces Keith Mourlam, who resigned in April after posting a 50-74-1 record in eight seasons as the head coach.