Rutgers wrestling transfer Nick Suriano, who compiled a 16-3 record last season as a Penn State freshman, will be eligible to compete immediately, the Scarlet Knights confirmed Wednesday.
NJ.com broke the news earlier in the week by citing unnamed sources. And Rutgers made the news official Wednesday morning.
Rutgers will host Penn State on Jan. 28, 2018.
“New Jersey is my home, and it’s what I want to represent,” Suriano said in a written statement. “I want to make history and bring New Jersey and Rutgers with me. I have all the support and coaching I need right here at this university. This was my decision, and I’m confident in it and the support of the team I have around me.”
Neither Rutgers nor the Big Ten explained why a waiver was granted to make him immediately eligible. Big Ten policy dictates that intra-conference transfers are expected to sit for one year before being eligible.
Still, the Suriano decision didn’t come as a surprise. It’s been known for months that Suriano’s camp was seeking immediate eligibility — and the waiver should be a big boon to Rutgers wrestling.
During his freshman campaign last season, Suriano at one point was 16-1, with his lone loss to Iowa’s Thomas Gilman, before injuring his ankle against Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Dual Championship Series title dual in February.
Shortly thereafter, Suriano was forced to forfeit his matches in both the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament, where he was the No. 3 seed at 125 pounds.
Penn State still picked up its sixth national championship in the past seven years and crowned five individual champions. But Suriano was still widely regarded as one of the nation’s best in his weight class. He was 159-0 during high school at Bergen Catholic in Paramus, N.J.
Rutgers finished the 2016-17 dual season tied for 12th in the final USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll.
“We are excited that Nick has decided to come back home and join our program,” Rutgers coach Scott Goodale said. “This is a young man with an incredible work ethic and drive that doesn’t come around all that often.
“We are beyond excited that Nick is eligible to compete right away. This is a student-athlete that deserves the opportunity to chase his dream of becoming a national champion in his home state.”
Lauren Muthler contributed to this report.