Two years after being dropped as head wrestling coach at San Francisco State after more than three decades, Lars Jensen has received a half-million dollar settlement from the school.
“Two weeks ago, we had a meeting with the judge, San Francisco State and the California university system,” Jensen told InterMat Monday. “All parties agreed that a $500,000 settlement, and the judge thought it was fair.”
When asked for his initial reaction to the resolution, Jensen immediately said, “I’m relieved” then added, “Basically, I’ve spent the past two years fighting this.”
“My lawyer did a fantastic job. We had planned to have the case go to trial and let a jury decide. I’m glad it’s now been resolved.”
Jensen’s attorney, Robert Jaret, echoed those sentiments, saying, “We’re pleased to reach a positive conclusion of his case.”
Jensen had been affiliated with San Francisco State for 40 years, first arriving on campus as a wrestler in 1977, then serving as an assistant coach until taking the helm of the Gators mat program beginning in the 1983-1984 season.
In a June 2017 interview with InterMat, Jensen said, “The athletic director Charles Guthrie and Vice President for Advancement Robert Nava came into my office for my evaluation. They basically said, ‘We’re opening up the position and you’re welcome to apply.'”
“I handed them my resume and qualifications, and said I wanted to re-apply for the job.”
By then, the job opening for head wrestling coach at SFSU had been posted at an NCAA jobs website, and Jensen’s bio had been deleted from the official Gators wrestling website for the 2017-18 season.
“It’s hard to prove age discrimination,” Jensen said this week. “They didn’t give me appropriate consideration.”
“The one thing I can say is the three people who made the decision are no longer there.”
Despite having his long-time job as coach pulled out from under him in 2017, Jensen said, “I’m still a Gator. In the midst of all this, I was selected as a professor emeritus in Kinesiology at San Francisco State” having served as a classroom instructor in that subject for nearly two decades.
Beyond continuing as an instructor in his major at his alma mater, what’s next for Lars Jensen?
“I’ve already put in a call to Mike Moyer at the National Wrestling Coaches Association, to see about mentoring young college coaches.”
Lars Jensen has impressive coaching credentials worth sharing. During his time at the helm of the Gator mat program, Jensen became the only coach in any sport to bring a national title to SFSU (in 1997). In more than 33 years as head coach, Jensen could claim ten NCAA Division II individual champions and 62 NCAA All-Americans. In addition to on-the-mat success, Jensen coached 65 wrestlers to All-Academic honors.
Jensen has been enshrined in at least a half-dozen halls of fame, including the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame, the California Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the San Francisco State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
For all those reasons, Jensen’s attorney Robert Jaret — who once was a wrestler himself — paid Lars Jensen the ultimate compliment, saying, “I’d love to have had a coach like Lars.”