The NCAA Division III Championships Committee has affirmed their prior recommendation to limit field sizes for the 2021 winter and spring championships. For wrestling, this means that the committee recommended reducing the number of qualifiers from 180 to 135. This recommendation will go to the DIII Management Council for approval at their October 19-20 meeting.
The recommendation comes as the NCAA continues to deal with the fallout of losing hundreds of millions of dollars of TV revenue due to the cancellation of the DI Men’s Basketball championship tournament. See more about the NCAA’s financial situation. The NCAA was expecting to take in over $800 million from March Madness TV contracts. As a result, Division III will receive $22 million less than last year. The Division III budget is primarily used to conduct championships. For a look at how NCAA finances work under normal circumstances, head to Where Does the Money Go?
It is worth mentioning that the changes to the championship field are not designed to reduce risk of contracting COVID-19. It is purely a financial decision to deal with the lost revenue as well as increased costs due to sanitization procedures and testing. How the field will be determined is still an open question. If the top two at each region qualify, that still leaves 15 spots in the field of 135. Assigning those spots will be a challenge given the nature of a shortened season where most competition is likely to be regional. Once the reduced field size becomes official, the DIII Wrestling Committee will likely begin to develop a plan for determining which 135 wrestlers will compete in the 2021 championships.