The NWCA Leadership Group has been working on developing a non-NCAA championships event for Division III wrestlers prior to last week’s announcement, and the planning obviously kicked into overdrive with the cancellation of the 2021 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. Teams were surveyed for interest and likelihood of competing in such an event, and an official announcement of an NWCA Division III Championships should be coming shortly.
The current format under consideration is a two day event taking place March 12-13 in Iowa. The exact site is still to be announced, as several venues are under consideration. The goal is brackets of no more than 32 wrestlers at each weight. There will not be a qualification round, but a selection committee could be utilized to narrow the field of entries down to 32 in the event more than that number desire to compete at a given weight. Wrestlers will come from teams whose institutions allow them to compete. This is the tournament at which NWCA All-Americans would be named.
The NWCA Leadership group elected by the DIII coaches was not consulted before USA Wrestling made their announcement and had been working on the idea for the NWCA Division III Wrestling Championships for weeks in anticipation that the NCAA could cancel winter championships. USA Wrestling and the NWCA Leadership Group have since been in touch and are hopeful they can work together to provide the best possible experience for Division III wrestlers.
The tournament operating expenses are estimated at $75,00-100,000 overall for venue rental, officials, labor, awards, and COVID-19 protocols and testing. The Leadership Group is looking for larger sponsors and will shortly establish a link for anyone who would like to donate to help defray the cost of the event. In a typical year, the NCAA pays for the cost of the Championships, so funding for this even will have to come from other sources.
Last week was tough on wrestlers who thought they would finish this season without a championship tournament, but at least some of them should have the chance to compete for All-American awards.