ABERDEEN (AP) - Northern State University has hired a coach to lead the wrestling program that the school suspended but then reinstated after an outpouring of financial support from across the country.
Rocky Burkett has spent the last three seasons as the head wrestling coach at Aberdeen Central High School. He led the Golden Eagles to the 2014 South Dakota State Wrestling Tournament team title and was named state coach of the year.
Burkett returns to the Northern State coaching staff after previous stints as a graduate assistant from 2005-2007 and assistant coach from 2007-11. He succeeds Pat Timm, who resigned in early March after 15 seasons.
"This is my dream job, and this program is ready to reach new heights," Burkett said.
Two weeks after Timm's resignation, Northern State officials suspended the wrestling program and said they wanted to review the long-term viability and financing of the program for two seasons. However, the school then received pledges of more than $70,000 per year for five years to support operating expenses, scholarships and an assistant coach position. National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer also worked with school officials to save the program.
Moyer issued a statement saying the program is in good hands with Burkett.
"Coach Burkett represents the gold standard in coaching and is highly regarded for his commitment to providing a solid, educationally based athletic experience for his student-wrestlers," Moyer said.