"We had many qualified candidates, but in the end it was clear that Tony had emerged as our No. 1 choice," Burke said. "He presented a comprehensive plan for moving our wrestling program forward both in the Big Ten and nationally. His resume as a coach and as a student-athlete is impressive, and it is clear he knows the look and feel of a championship-caliber program. I congratulate our search team, led by Calvin Williams, for selecting an outstanding head coach."
"I'd like to thank Calvin Williams, Morgan Burke and the entire search committee that I dealt with during hiring process," Ersland said. "Being named head wrestling coach at Purdue means a lot to me. I've been coaching for 17 years, and I got into this business to lead young men. I know the path I have taken to get to this point and the individuals that I have worked with have prepared me to create an elite program at Purdue. I'm thankful Purdue has put its trust in me to lead the wrestling program."
Ersland comes to Purdue after serving as an assistant coach at Nebraska for the past eight seasons. While on staff, the Huskers have tallied a 102-41-2 dual record, seven top-20 team finishes at the NCAA championships and grapplers have earned 17 All-America honors. Ersland, who primarily worked with the upper weights, coached three-time All-American, two-time NCAA finalist and 2009 Big 12 champion and Outstanding Wrestler of the Meet Craig Brester at 197 pounds. He also coached four-time qualifiers in Josh Ihnen (184) and Tucker Lane (285).
During his 17 years, Ersland has played an integral role in developing student-athletes that are accomplished on the mat and nationally recognized. He has had 86 wrestlers qualify for the NCAA championships, with 28 earning All-America honors and four finishing at the top of the podium. Two of his pupils, Jordan Burroughs and Jake Herbert, earned the highest honor a collegiate grappler can receive in the Dan Hodge Award. Ersland continued to develop Burroughs on the international stage as he claimed the 2011 and 2013 World titles at 74 kg. In 2012, Burroughs claimed Olympic gold in London.
"Tony has been associated with winning programs and has significant experience in the Big Ten Conference," associate athletics director Calvin Williams said. "He brings a level of maturity and focus that will be conducive to taking our wrestling program to the next level. We believe very strongly that he is the right choice for Purdue University."
Prior to his post at Nebraska, Ersland coached the Cyclone Wrestling Club in Ames, Iowa. Ersland worked with Iowa State NCAA champions Trent Paulson (157) and David Zabriskie (285) among other multiple NCAA qualifiers and All-Americans.
His familiarity with the Big Ten extends beyond his time at Nebraska. From 2000-05, Ersland was the head assistant wrestling coach at Northwestern, and he also served as a coach and board member for the Wildcat Wrestling Club.
He was the head assistant wrestling coach at Northern Illinois in 1999 and 2000 after getting his start as a graduate assistant at Central Michigan from 1997 to '99.
On the mat, Ersland wrestled for Iowa under legendary coach Dan Gable and was a part of three consecutive NCAA team championships (1995-97) and four Big Ten championships (1994-97). During his senior season in 1997, Ersland finished one match shy of All-America honors at 177 pounds.
A Humboldt, Iowa, native, Ersland excelled in the classroom as a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and Board of Control Athletics Award winner, and was bestowed with Iowa wrestling's J. Donald McPike Award, given to the senior on the team with the highest grade-point average.