The 2017 regional alignment was recently released with zero changes from the 2016 season except to add new teams into existing regions. That setup can be seen here. The Northeast, East, and Mideast regions each have 19 teams, the Midwest has 17, the Central has 15, and the West remains at 11 and is the only region that did not grow this year.
For the past four years, teams only moved from one region to another in order to limit the number of teams in each region to 18 or less. Wilkes, Scranton, Ohio Northern, and Mount St. Joseph are some teams that have moved in the past few years in order to accommodate the limit of 18 teams. This limit has been disregarded for the 2017 season.
In April of 2016, the Division III Wrestling Committee met and developed a proposal for 2017 regionals. The four current members of the committee are Dave Kemmy, Roger Williams athletic director; Eric Van Kley, Central College head coach and athletic director; Nathan Shearer, Washington & Lee head coach; and Roger Crebs, Lycoming head coach. The proposal this group sent to the NCAA Championships Committee can be seen in the committee report here. The image below lays out all six regions under that proposal. Teams in red are new teams or those that would have moved under the proposal.
Correction: Southern Virginia is actually in the Mideast under this proposal, putting 16 in the Mideast and 18 in the East. The image above has been corrected.
In June of this year, the NCAA Division III Championships Committee (roster listed here) rejected this proposal, referred it back to the wrestling committee, and moved the timeline back to 2017-2018, invalidating what teams had previously been told (read the report here on page 8). Teams had been told that major changes would not be made until the regional system had been in place for four years. The fourth year ended with the 2016 NCAA Championships, but the Championships Committee decided to kick the decision down the road another year.
The wrestling committee proposed a change to the composition of the committee in April of 2015 with a proposed implementation of September 2015. The change would have added two members to the committee in order to have representation from each of the six regions. The Championships Committee approved the proposal in September of 2015 but with an effective date of September 2016, a full year later. In June of 2016, the Championships Committee again approved the proposal, but now the effective date was September 2017, yet another full year later. This is the same report where the regional alignment was rejected and the realignment question postponed until 2017.
The reason given for the postponement in the report was that “The committee requested that input be gathered from affected schools and conference offices before submitting a recommendation. Further, the wrestling committee should outline how proposed changes will change the number of schools assigned to each region and recommend a timeline for implementation (no earlier than 2017-18) to allow schools to adjust to changes.”
At the 2016 National Wrestling Coaches Association Convention, a proposal for the 2017 season was presented to the Division III coaches. The changes were much less drastic than the April proposal and held to the limit of 18 teams in a region. All of the Wisconsin schools were moved to the West, Ithaca and King’s were moved to the Mideast, Baldwin Wallace, Muskingum, and Heidelberg were moved to the Midwest, and the new teams were allocated to regions. This alignment was presented and then an online survey was given to gauge the acceptance among Division III coaches. The August report of the Championships Committee indicates that the committee is aware of the proposal and will take the survey results under consideration before making a final decision on the regional alignment for the 2017 season.
At the September meeting of the Championships Committee, it was decided to do nothing. New teams were added to regions. The prior limit of 18 teams in a region was ignored, and the system for determining who goes to the NCAA Championships became a little bit more unfair, at least for this season. The reason given for the inaction was the desire to wait until there is representation from each of the six regions on the wrestling committee. The reader will note that two paragraphs earlier the reason given for rejecting a prior proposal was to gather information from affected schools. Apparently, the rationale for rejecting change has itself changed. Of course, if the committee will not be expanded until September of 2017, then it seems likely that Division III wrestling will continue to be stuck with half measures and delays. The report for the September 2016 meeting where all regional changes were rejected has not yet been released on the NCAA website. Analysis will be forthcoming on this site when that report is published. The report is expected to arrive in early October.