Legendary Wrestling Coach Creates Legacy

It was arguably no surprise to those who knew SOU wrestling coach Bob Riehm that he bequeathed a significant portion of his estate to the university’s men’s wrestling program. Riehm had a reputation for generosity. When a wrestler didn’t have money to go to his father’s funeral, Riehm gave the young man a credit card and the keys to his own car to allow him to attend the funeral. That was the kind of coach and person Riehm was to hundreds of student-athletes.

Riehm’s $3 million gift was the largest-ever single gift to the university when it was announced in January 2022. It was also a reminder of his commitment to SOU, the wrestling program, and to the student-athlete. The gift endows the men’s wrestling head coach position at SOU and will fund scholarships for the team’s wrestlers. “As a coach and mentor, Coach Riehm made an immeasurable impact on the lives of so many student-athletes who came through his program,” said SOU Athletic Director
Matt Sayre.

Riehm, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 83, started wrestling in elementary school and continued through high school in his home town of Britt, Iowa. He attended the University of Iowa and wrestled for its team. He then taught and coached in Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois before joining the SOU Raiders in 1969 as head coach of the men’s wrestling program.

With a career that spanned 25 years, Riehm led the program to three national championships and mentored some 100 NAIA
All-Americans. He created an impressive career record and was later inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, Oregon Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and SOU Sports Hall of Fame.

In addition to coaching, Riehm was an entrepreneur, founding what is known in the wrestling industry as the mat lamp. This lamp, placed singularly over the center of the wrestling mat creates drama, focus, and enthusiasm as opponents wrestle.

The university honored Riehm’s success in 2011 with the naming of the gym inside what is now Lithia Motors Pavilion. The Bob Riehm Arena serves as the center of competition for the university’s men’s and women’s wrestling teams. “Coach Riehm will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in Raider history. We’re honored to have his name grace our facility and the scholarships he set up to support our men’s program,” said Sayre.

Riehm was larger-than-life when it came to helping others, mentoring student-athletes, and working to make SOU better. His contributions to SOU and its student-athletes ensure that his legacy will continue to have an impact long into the future.