There has been a lot of forum chatter, emails, text messages, and phone calls taking place over an issue that will be decided in the next couple of weeks. There is now a proposal for the NCAA to adopt the National Duals to crown the team championship for wrestling. The news broke during the NWCA coaches convention and gained some publicity when head coach Cael Sanderson (Penn State University) tweeted from London during the Olympics that he was against the proposal.
At the time the proposal became more public there were still so many questions that were unanswered - my first thought was that this seems like it would be good for wrestling. As with most things in life you have to investigate a little deeper before assuming something will be “good” or “bad". I must admit that even after having a few discussions with friends, coaches and other media I still was not considering what some of the concerns were over the new proposal. The more conversations I have had (especially with coaches) the more questions there are that seemed to be unanswered.
I called several coaches and asked them their thoughts on the proposal and what concerns they have. Some of the coaches were very positive and strongly favor the proposal, some were very cautious and do not feel it is the right direction while others just feel like there is not enough information to make an intelligent informed decision. I read numerous emails from many different coaches and also the proposal sent to the coaches, and letters from Rob Koll (Cornell University), Brian Smith (Missouri), and John Smith (Oklahoma State). I will try to communicate what I perceive from this communication as some of the points for, against and some of the concerns regarding the proposal.
Let's first start with some of the rationale and information about the proposal: Rationale:
1)Make the dual meet season more relevant.
2)Place priority on dual meet competition
3)More exposure for wrestling on ESPN. (2nd marquee championship event)
The format will be 16 teams1 with the conference champions from the ACC, Big Ten, CAA, EIWA, EWL, MAC, PAC 12, Southern and Western Regionals all receiving automatic qualifying status. The remaining seven slots would be selected based on several criteria. (Strength of schedule, 2Overall win/loss record, Team RPI, Results vs common opponents, Head to head competition, Quality wins, and Coaches Rank.)
The top 8 seeds would host the lower seeds on the 2nd weekend in February3 and the eight winners of those matches would then gather for a two day event the following weekend in a location that would seat 12,000 to 16,000 fans and two mats.4 The NCAA would only recognize the team champions of the National Duals while the NWCA will continue to keep a team score5 at the NCAA Championships held in March. The NCAA would continue to to sponsor the individual championships6 This includes travel expenses for the 330 athletes. The NCAA Individual Championships will also continue to recognize eight All Americans and a Champion in each of the ten weight classes. There is also a a possibility for the NWCA organizing a secondary event/championship for those teams that do not qualify for the “NCAA” National title.
1)Two Marquee events on ESPN which will expose many more people to the sport of wrestling.
2)Focusing on the Dual Meet format will attract more moderate wrestling fans to the sport. Following a dual meet as a fan is much easier than following a tournament and a dual meet lasts a couple of hours while a tournament last 1 to 3 days.
3)Team championship is based on more of a complete team effort and not just the effort of a portion of the team.7
4)The team championship is something different to help not only save the programs we do have but to add programs in the future.
1) Less emphasis on the NCAA individual tournament.8 This could hurt a teams like American, or Arizona State who in the last few years have placed high at NCAA's based on a few strong Individual performances. This helps programs legitimatize their programs to their administration. 9
2) Travel costs of lower seeded teams needing to make short notice travel which could put a strain on their budget.
3) Short window of time for fans to make travel plans for those who advance to Final 8.
4) Lack of Clear specific purpose
5) Risk of hurting the NCAA individual championship event.
6) Generally not enough information provided by the NWCA.
7) Moving to fast - Quick decision needed to be made. (Early September)
8) 12 dual meet minimum to qualify for the Dual Championship could/would cause the Ivy league schools to have to alter their schedule.10
Personally, I believe that most of the concerns can be worked out and answered but the question that still remains is - Should the NWCA move forward without a vote of confidence from the coaches? It would seem that there are about an equal number of coaches who are for the proposal as there are against it (Although most of those against seem to be anti due to the lack of information and short timeframe to make the decision) There still seem to be many more coaches who are undecided and looking for more information. The implementation of this would be for the 2013-2014 season and would apply to the 2014 NCAA championships.
1 While the initial proposal calls for 16 teams to be represented in the field, the NCAA is open to expanding the field in the future contingent on the success of the event.
2 Must have at least 12 Dual meets
3 All revenues and expenses being absorbed by the two competing institutions.
4 The results of the team portion of the championships would not count toward the selection criteria for individual qualification. This approach ensures a fair and equitable consideration for all 77 institutions that sponsor wrestling.
5 NWCA will keep team score at the individual championships. How/where that is accomplished TBD.
6 with the exception of keeping team score
7 In the current format you may only have a small portion of your team qualify for the NCAA tournament and so not every wrestlers gets to personally contribute to the team championship.
8 Smaller programs can now place high in the NCAA tournament with a couple top wrestlers
9 American Universities 5th place Finish at NCAA in 2010 was the schools second highest NCAA FiÂnish in any sport.
Updated on May 13, 2013, 10:37am