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Carter Starocci slams ‘loyalty’ of Penn State wrestling icon David Taylor after move to Oklahoma State

Following his announced departure for Oklahoma State, Carter Starocci took a thinly veiled shot at the “loyalty” of David Taylor to the Penn State wrestling program.



Penn State wrestling, David Taylor, Carter Starocci, Cael Sanderson, Oklahoma State
Apr 20, 2024; State College, Pennsylvania, USA; David Taylor kneels on the mat after losing to Aaron Brookes (not pictured) 3-1 by decision in the 86 kilograms Freestyle Championship Final during day two of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials at Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The college wrestling world was upended Monday night with the news that David Taylor was leaving Happy Valley to become the next head coach at Oklahoma State. A move that will have far-reaching impacts on the sport for years to come, the consequences will first be felt closest to home, within the walls of the Penn State wrestling program. While Tuesday was undoubtedly a day of mixed emotions for those who have grown close to Taylor in Rec Hall and the Nittany Lions Wrestling Club, four-time National Champion Carter Starocci couldn’t hide his displeasure with the move. The Nittany Lions star took to social media to offer a thinly veiled shot at Taylor’s “loyalty” to the program in the wake of the decision.

Carter Starocci slams David Taylor following move to Oklahoma State

The reports that David Taylor was being considered for the Oklahoma State job popped up suddenly last week after the Cowboys’ coaching search stalled in the lead-up to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. The sides reportedly met in State College Friday after opening a channel of dialogue the week prior.

But from there, the dominos fell quickly. By Monday night, Oklahoma State had announced the two-time National Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist as its next head coach.

The move isn’t necessarily surprising on either side; Oklahoma State is historically the most dominant program in the sport, and David Taylor has been one of the faces of college and international wrestling for the last decade. Taylor has been upfront about his desire to become a coach after his competitive career ended, which we may have seen at the hands of Aaron Brooks last month.

However, Taylor’s departure is somewhat of a shock given how much Penn State wrestling, the NLWC, and the State College community have meant to him. And evidently, that decision has left some deep wounds for some, including Carter Starocci. The Nittany Lions’ first four-timer took to social media Tuesday with a not-so-subtle post about Taylor’s move to Oklahoma State.

“I was offered a big pay day too,” he wrote. “I said, ‘Go wipe your ass with that money.’ When it comes to money, people switch like the weather. Not me. Loyalty is everything. Nothing is built without trust. PSU vs OK State in the football stadium. The national champs [will win] 10 matches to 0.”

The comments layer in a series of posts from what has been a very active week on social media for Carter Starocci. He referenced a previous tweet in which he proposed Penn State wrestling host a dual in Beaver Stadium this fall. Given that such a dual would most likely have to be out of conference, Oklahoma State would be one of the few teams with enough national appeal for such a venue.

In his post, Starocci also said he turned down “a big pay day.” It’s worth mentioning that last week, the Nittany Lions star proclaimed himself as the highest-paid college wrestler “by a lot” in another viral post.

A new chapter for Penn State wrestling?

There’s no denying that Cael Sanderson has the Penn State wrestling dynasty operating at full throttle. In fact, Sanderson’s arrival in Happy Valley 15 years ago almost exactly overlaps with the 18-year team National Championship drought for Oklahoma State.

But this is new. While some main contributors — like Mark Hall and Vincenzo Joseph — have left the Penn State wrestling/NLWC orbit, this is the first time that a keystone of the program has taken over somewhere that has proven it has the firepower to compete nationally.

David Taylor is probably not the last member from around the program destined for Stillwater from State College. While the NLWC is more likely to be hit than Sanderson’s Penn State staff, that may also be possible. The transfer portal is officially closed, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see any potential player impact. But one ex-Nittany Lion that could look to follow Taylor to Oklahoma State is Terrell Barraclough, who entered the portal on April 29.

As long as Sanderson is in Happy Valley, Penn State wrestling isn’t going anywhere. With the lineup projected for 2025 and beyond, there’s no reason to worry about the Nittany Lions. But this also undoubtedly starts a new chapter of the Cael Sanderson era of Penn State wrestling. As if it wasn’t already interesting enough.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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