Committee Proposes Changes To NCAA Wrestling Duals
By K.J. Pilcher, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The highest level of college wrestling could experience a considerable change to its postseason.
Members of the coaching community confirm they have heard of a proposal by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee that would change the landscape of the postseason, including the National Duals and the NCAA Championships. Reportedly, the idea was presented to the NCAA's sports management cabinet earlier this week.
The new format would include teams vying for a 24 spots and competed over two weekends sandwiched between national qualifying tournaments and the national tournament. Dual results during the regular season would determine the field.
The biggest change could come from teams earning points depending on their dual finish, which would be carried over to the team race of the individual tournament. This comes on the heels of a failed push last year to scrap team points at the individual tournament and crown a national team champion at the dual competition.
"It's an interesting concept," University of Northern Iowa Coach Doug Schwab said. "Maybe it's just a proposal at this time, just putting out there, but they're still in the stages of deciding if they want to move forward. Including the coaches is going to be important."
The changes, if approved by NCAA officials, are not expected to be instituted until 2016. Coaches will get their opportunity to officially weigh in on the matter during a National Wrestling Coaches Association Convention in August 2-4 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"Conceptually, our board historically has been supportive of anything that really tries to put emphasis on regular-season meets," NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer said. "Our board will be discussing this.
"The importance is we need to grow our fan base at each campus throughout the regular season."
The motivation behind the emphasis on dual competition is to generate more appeal to the casual fan for regular-season duals and expand the attendance on campus. The theory is to increase the stakes to increase the excitement and following so it is similar to the NCAA Championships.
Other philosophies exist. The answer is in the product and not the packaging.
"You want to make dual meets important, you want to make wrestling important, then put entertaining wrestlers on the mat that are more interested in scoring points than they are strategizing and keeping things close," University of Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. "If you have a person who is focused on scoring points you multiply that (and) you'll multiply that even more."
The dual event has lacked some of the top teams. Penn State and Iowa have missed the event in recent years. They own the last six NCAA titles. Iowa, Penn State and Oklahoma State are not expected to be in this year's National Dual field, which is planned for Madison Square Garden in New York in February.
The proposed format will force the hands of some coaches.
"If they make it where you score so many points through that thing I'm sure everybody's going to go to it," Schwab said. "You're going to have 100 percent of the schools will want to partake in it. I think that's what their goal is."
Moyer said that discussing the topic is good, and that varying opinions are welcome. They all need to be taken into account. He stressed this is a decision that has been presented by and is solely up to the NCAA. The NWCA role is to stimulate conversation among its ranks.
"Lots of people have different ideas," Moyer said. "The more ideas put out there the more they're vetted (and) the more likely we are to arrive at a solution the majority of the coaches will support."
Coaches are still searching for more answers. Schwab said he is concerned about the timing and the scheduling during the extended break between qualifiers and the NCAA tournament for teams who don't make the field.
The biggest concern is how a format will affect the NCAA Championships.
"Everybody's a little bit leery of taking away anything from the national tournament," Schwab said. "If you've ever been to one, you'd understand why. It's an incredible event. There's nothing better than the national tournament."