Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling
Brendan Buckley enters his 11th season as The Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling, a fully-endowed position made possible by a gift from Andrew F. Barth '83CC '85BUS. Buckley is the first head coach to be awarded the position since it was endowed in September 2005.
When Buckley moved from the University of Virginia to become Columbia's head coach in 2000, he listed major plans for the program with the purpose of transforming Columbia into a recognized force in conference, regional and national wrestling circles. The progress Buckley has made is obvious. With five years of nationally-ranked recruiting classes, 20 NCAA qualifiers since his arrival on campus and a school-record eight placewinners at Easterns in 2006-07, it's clear that he is well on his way to achieving his goal.
Over the past six years alone, Columbia has earned 26 All-Ivy League selections, 16 NCAA qualifiers, and the program's first All-American in 23 years: Matt Palmer '07CC. The two-time All-American finished eighth in the 2005 and 2007 NCAA Championships at 165 pounds and 174 pounds, respectively. In 2008-09, Buckley coached heavyweight Ryan Flores to the program's first Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) title since 1995.
Buckley's leadership has not gone unnoticed regionally. In 2005, he was named the EIWA Coach of the Year, as he led the Lions to one of the best seasons in the program's long history. Columbia finished fourth at the 2005 EIWA Championships, the team's best finish at the meet since 1931. The Lions also won the EIWA Wrestling Officials' Sportsmanship Award.
Columbia made further improvements in 2007, as the team earned its first-ever top 25 ranking, eight wrestlers placed at the EIWA Championships, four team members qualified for nationals and Matt Palmer earned his second All-America honor.
In 2008, Buckley had his second first-year receive Amateur Wrestling News All-Rookie Team honors, as heavyweight Ryan Flores was named to the second team. Matt Palmer also received All-Rookie Team distinction in 2003.
Buckley came to Columbia from the University of Virginia, where he had been the top assistant coach from 1998 to 2000. He helped lead the Cavaliers to two straight top-25 finishes in the NCAA Championships, while at the same time having a role in developing three All-Americans and seven NCAA qualifiers. One of his prize pupils, Steve Garland, reached the title match of the 2000 NCAA Championships at 125 pounds, upsetting top-seeded Jody Strittmatter of Iowa in the quarterfinals.
Prior to Virginia, Buckley was the chief assistant coach at the University of California at Davis and at Sacramento City College. Serving at UC Davis during 1997-98, he was instrumental in the Aggies' best season ever which included victories over Stanford and Southern Oregon. He coached Mike Collier, the first UC Davis wrestler ever to win an NCAA championship-round match. During his tenure at Sacramento City College, five wrestlers earned All-America status.
Originally from Long Island, Buckley lived in Buffalo, N.Y., for a period before moving to Orlando, Fla. He was a high school All-American and Florida State champion at 135 pounds for Lake Howell High, then starred at Clemson where he made the freshman All-American team his first year and reached the NCAA Final 16 as a 142-lb. sophomore.
When Clemson dropped wrestling after the 1994-95 season, Buckley transferred to Fresno State, where he wrestled under the famed Dennis DeLiddo. He was a Western Athletic Conference champion for the Bulldogs and earned All-America status in 1997, when he placed seventh at the NCAA Championship at 142 pounds.
Buckley graduated from Fresno State in 1997 with a B.A. in speech communication is currently pursuing a master's degree in Sports Management from Columbia.
He and his wife Julia live in Morningside Heights near the Columbia campus.