In their meeting earlier this week, the NCAA Division III Championships Committee recommended limiting all winter and spring championships to 75% of their standard capacity. This applies equally to team and individual sports. If the proposal were to go into effect for wrestling, the NCAA bracket would be reduced from 180 athletes to 135.
Before this proposal becomes reality, feedback will be solicited from the various sport committees. Then the Management and Presidents Councils will make the final decision. This decision could come next month.
Putting this proposal into action for wrestling would require a significant reworking of the qualification procedures. Presently, the top three wrestlers in each weight from each of six regions qualifies into a bracket of 18 competitors. Dropping from 180 to 135 could result in the return of some sort of at-large selections as well as true-second matches at the regional tournaments.
The cost of hosting championships and budget constraints related to COVID-19 are the driving factors behind this proposal. Hosting all rounds of winter and spring championships at predetermined sites and enhanced testing and sanitation protocols will add $9 million to the championships budget for 2020-2021, and reducing field sizes has been proposed to help limit expenses. Division III had already experienced a $7.6 million budget shortfall for 2019-2020 as a result of the cancellation of winter and spring championships.