Blue Ribbon Task Force DI Proposal

As reported by Trackwrestling’s Andy Hamilton, a Blue Ribbon Task Force made up of NCAA Division I administrators and coaches has developed a proposal for a new season schedule for NCAA Division I Wrestling. The basic outline of the proposal is as follows:

  • November 10th is the first day of practice
  • Competition begins after fall semester exams
  • Tournaments and dual meet competition leading to a March NCAA Individual Championship
  • Dual meets only after the individual championship leading toward a 16 team dual meet championship contested over two weekends in late April
  • Two NCAA Division I Championships in wrestling, one for a tournament champion, and one for a dual meet champion

There are approximately 240 NCAA wrestling teams. Two thirds of them (and a greater fraction in the coming years) are not set to be affected by this proposed change. In addressing this, the facilitator of the task force, National Wrestling Coaches Association Deputy Director Jim Falls said, “For Division II and Division III, if keeping the season where it is now is best for them, they can do that. And they should do that.”

It is hard to predict how enacting a change like this in Division I would affect Division III wrestling. There is a possibility that Divisions II and III would be further marginalized because their schedules do not match up with the higher profile Division I schedule. Alternatively, if DII and DIII adopt the change as well, it would probably result in both a shortened season and increased expenses for DIII as teams now have to house and feed athletes for a longer part of the winter break. The season would be shortened because there is no way the NCAA will foot the bill for a DIII dual meet championship after the championship tournament.

Changing the schedule for Division III has a much greater effect than it does for Division I. In Division III, the official start date for practice is actually meaningful, as that is the first day that coaches can be on the mat with the wrestlers. In Division I, relaxed rules along with the proliferation of wrestling clubs and regional training centers has resulted in a system where teams can literally practice twelve months a year if they want to. Here’s a video of an Ohio State practice from earlier this week, about two weeks before the “start date” for practice. If you can train as a team whenever you want, shifting the season around does not make much of a difference. However, in Division III, these dates have teeth, so changing the DI season could end up leaving the other divisions behind or bringing them along into a system that is not an improvement.

One Comment

  • Coach Morris says:

    The NCAA doesn’t foot the bill now for our national duals. The change of season would be impact in a positive way with APR and retention for all levels. Having that first semester to evaluate our athletes academically and socially before we put them on our rosters is a game changer. Coaches have been reluctant to support the national duals because of the fear of an athlete getting hurt before “the NCAA tournament”. This change would in my opinion have more coaches support the nationals duals structure (similar to NCAA final 4). If they brought back the national duals with all divisions with this format it would sell out just like the NCAA DI individual tournament. Then our athletes would get to experience that environment. Teams that don’t support the change are the folks that don’t value the dual meet or their program is designed better for individuals not “team”. Funding is always going to be a challenge no matter the season. I would rather fundraise more and have a chance to grow our sport for the casual fan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *