Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It is a true pleasure to join you today at this very special celebration. The excitement and anticipation over the USA Olympic Wrestling Trials on our campus and in our community are electric. We are very proud to host this national event with international importance. And I am proud that our visitors will be greeted by this wonderful new recognition of a wrestling legend.

Across the nation and the world, mention “the University of Iowa,” and a number of areas of special excellence come to people’s minds. It might our world-renowned health care and medical research. It might be our historic and innovative commitment to creativity in the academic setting—from our top-ranking printmaking program to the first and still the best Writers’ Workshop. And it might very well be wrestling.

Athletics plays a very important role at the University of Iowa. Athletics teaches important lessons to our students: teamwork, leadership, discipline, and the pursuit of excellence. Athletics are also central to our relationship with the world outside our campus walls. For many people, the Hawkeyes are the main connection with our university, inspiring pride, goodwill, and loyalty. I am very proud of the partnership between the greater university and our intercollegiate athletics program that not only teaches but also engages us with our broader constituencies.

We value all of our teams, all of our coaches, and of course, all of our student-athletes. But one program holds a very special place in the annals of excellence that is Iowa athletics: wrestling. Just as many might think “wrestling” when you say “Iowa,” many will also immediately think “Iowa” when you say “wrestling.” The place and the sport are that intertwined.

The Iowa wrestling legend has come about thanks to one of the most remarkable figures in athletics history. As president of this great university, I have the opportunity to meet and to know many, many talented faculty, staff, and students from across the wide landscape of the subjects we teach, the research we conduct, the programs we host, and the services and outreach we provide. So I know that one of the very finest of our university citizens is Dan Gable.

Dan Gable has certainly achieved excellence. But he is also an exemplar of all the values we hold the highest, including dedication, discipline, and integrity. I am very proud to know Dan Gable. And perhaps that idea—pride—is the truest, most shining characteristic of the Iowa wrestling program. Of course, winning is important, and we are very glad when it happens. But as Dan Gable himself has said, “More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill—none have wrestled without pride.”

That philosophy has not only characterized the Iowa wrestling program, but has become a defining idea for wrestling across the country. If you search for that Gable quotation on the Internet, you will find it emblazoned on the front page of hundreds, if not thousands, of wrestling team websites. That’s how important and influential Dan Gable is. And that’s why we are so very proud to honor him today—and forever—with this wonderful statue.