MORGANTOWN — Tim Flynn couldn’t wait to finish chewing his chocolate chip cookie before giving his answer.
That may be a sign of his eagerness to be the next wrestling coach at WVU.
“Funding,” he said Wednesday April 18, during a meet-and-greet at the WVU Coliseum that introduced him as the Mountaineers ninth wrestling coach in school history.
Flynn’s deal with WVU is for four years, worth a base salary of $160,000 per year, plus an incentive package that includes a $30,000 bonus for a national championship, according to the deal he signed Tuesday April 17.
In the world of collegiate wrestling, you can talk about location, tradition and facilities, and they all matter, but maybe not as much as the funding of scholarships.
Flynn spent 21 years at Edinboro (Pa.), an arts school just outside of Erie that is Division II in every sport, except for wrestling.
He sent 150 wrestlers into the NCAA tournament during that time and saw 38 earn all-American honors.
Flynn’s 2014-’15 team finished third in the country.
Did it all while driving a station wagon compared to Ohio State or Penn State’s Cadillac.
“Being in the state school system, they could just never commit to how much funding we were going to get,” Flynn said. “It kept making it harder to recruit. You didn’t even know what your budget was going to be for the next year.
“We were already giving out less than the full amount [of scholarships], and even that required us to raise money. Without getting into those details, I was just getting tired of those challenges. That’s literally how I thought about it.”
The Division I maximum for wrestling is 9.9 scholarships per season, which can be broken up and spread across an entire roster — most Division I teams carry between 20-30 wrestlers.
Because of limited finances, Flynn was generally permitted the equivalency of five to six scholarships.
“Based on if I could raise, like $200,000, I could give out maybe eight,” Flynn continued. “We couldn’t consistently raise funds to get up to the full 9.9, which made it hard.”
For 21 years, Flynn made it work and he built a wrestling powerhouse and built himself his own brand in the wrestling ranks.
He did it by finding the right kind of kids, ones who were looking for a small-school atmosphere instead of a map-to-each-class powerhouse.
Flynn admits he initially was interested in the opening at Pitt last season.
“I didn’t want to be at Pitt and I just wasn’t quite ready to leave,” Flynn said.
WVU checked off most of Flynn’s boxes, including a small-town atmosphere wrapped into a Division I school competing in a Power 5 Conference.
Plus, Flynn now has the opportunity to ride in the Cadillac, so to speak.
The Mountaineers fund and allot a full 9.9 scholarships for wrestling. The team’s practice facility isn’t even 10-years old and WVU sits in the mix of one of wrestling’s most fertile recruiting grounds.
“My order would be Western Pa. and then you can look at around Allentown [Pa.], which is a good area,” Flynn said. “Then it’s Cleveland and then New York, which the talent is spread out there, but it’s all within a drive of here.”
He mentioned the people of Morgantown and the initial support he’s received from WVU.
More than anything else, it was always in the back of Flynn’s mind on what he could accomplish if given the right opportunity, the right funding at the right time.
In the seasons to come, Flynn will now find out .
“I wasn’t going to leave for an XYZ university,” Flynn said. “This is the Big 12. I mean, look at this place.”