By Tammy Tedesco NWCA
The 2011-12 wrestling season will showcase an exciting new format for the NWCA/Cliff Keen Division I National Dual Meet Championships that will feature four regional locations and a culminating championship for the final four teams that advance out of each region.
This is a change from the original 16 team bracket that has traditionally been contested over two days at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals.
The ultimate goal of this event is to create a premier national dual meet championship that will become a platform for growing spectator and media interest in wrestling both at the institutional and national levels. The initial rollout in the 2011-12 season is designed to assess how the dual meet championships fit into the existing wrestling calendar and also to determine the revenue generating potential for the purposes establishing a revenue-share with participating teams in future years.
The teams for the 2012 event were selected based primarily off the final 2010-11 NWCA Team Rankings as determined by the NWCA Coaches Poll. We are excited to announce that 22 of the top 25 teams from last year’s final coaches poll ranking have accepted invitations including eight of the top ten teams.
The dates of regional competitions will vary depending on the region but all will occur during the weekend of February 11, 2012. The final championship round will feature the dual meet team champion from each of the four regions and will be conducted on the campus of a participating team on the weekend of February 19, 2012.
The top twenty-four teams for the 2012 event have been selected and placed into four regions of six teams (the first team listed will be the host team):
- Midwest (host TBD), Iowa, Iowa State, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Northern Iowa.
- Cornell (confirmed), Central Michigan, Oklahoma, Purdue, Illinois, and American.
- Rutgers (confirmed), Minnesota, Kent State, Michigan, Missouri, and Cal Poly.
- Oklahoma State (confirmed), Boise State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Tennessee-Chattanooga.
In the second year of implementation and beyond, a new qualifying structure will be established which will place much more emphasis on the outcome of regular season dual meets. One team in each of the Division I Conferences will be declared the dual meet team champion by the end of January. In addition, “at large” teams will also be selected (based on their success in the current year) to round out a championship field of 24 teams. These 24 teams will advance to one of four regional tournaments. One team will advance out of each regional to a final championship round. We are confident that this new format will create considerably more spectator and media interest at the institutional levels because the outcome of every regular season dual meet will have much more meaning.
“This new concept is one of three critical components of the strategic plan being developed by the NWCA and the NCAA Wrestling Committee. We need to create more excitement around regular season dual meets, especially our conference dual meets. Every mainstream spectator sport in America has an emphasis on every regular season game/competition which determines their advancement into the post season. Right now the infrastructure of intercollegiate wrestling is geared toward an individual championship at the end of the season and until that changes, we will struggle with growing the spectator and media base on most college campuses,” said Brian Smith, NWCA President.
“On behalf of the NWCA Board of Directors, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks out to all 24 coaches for their willingness to support this new concept. It speaks volumes of the resolve of our college coaching community as it relates to strengthening our sport. Our sport may have some formidable challenges in front of it but I am confident we will overcome them through perseverance, ingenuity, and innovation,” said Mike Moyer, NWCA Executive Director.
“We are also forever grateful to the founding father of the D-I National Duals in 1989, John Graham, for his visionary role in this initiative. Further, an event like this would never be possible without the incredibly generous and ongoing support of our Title Sponsor, Cliff Keen Athletics, who has been involved with the National Duals since its inception in 1989. At the request of Cliff Keen Athletics, the National Duals will carry the name of Cliff Keen, the original founder of the NWCA and Cliff Keen Athletics.”
Ticket and more specific event information (dates, times, etc.) will be available at www.nwcaonline.com and other selected websites by September 1 once the mid-west regional site is confirmed.