Published Wed, Sep 19, 2012 12:32 pm Dateline
The Mid-American Conference has announced the addition of three schools for wrestling. Missouri, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion will join the conference exclusively for wrestling by the 2013-14 season. All three schools join the MAC on five-year contracts.
The addition of Missouri and Northern Iowa is effective immediately. Both schools will join the Mid-American Conference as affiliate members to compete in this season’s MAC Wrestling tournament and to participate fully starting in the 2013-14 season through the 2016-17 season.
Old Dominion will join the conference to compete in regular-season and tournament play beginning in the 2013-14 season through the 2017-18 season.
The addition of the three schools increases the MAC’s membership to nine schools, making the Mid-American Conference the third-largest Division-I wrestling league in the nation behind the Big Ten Conference and the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. Missouri, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion join current MAC affiliates Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Ohio.
Missouri comes to the MAC a year removed from its first Big 12 Conference championship in program history. The Tigers had four individual Big 12 Champions and finished the 2011-12 season ranked 26th in the NCAA rankings. Head Coach Brian Smith won the Big 12 Coach of the Year award, and the Tigers sent a nation-best 10 wrestlers to the 2012 NCAA Championship Wrestling Tournament.
Northern Iowa comes from the Western Wrestling Conference, where it finished second last season. The Panthers sent five wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament and finished 34th in the final NCAA rankings. In its storied history, Northern Iowa has produced 115 All-Americans, 21 Individual Division-I National Champions and one Olympic Gold Medalist - Bill Smith in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. In the last 32 years of Division-I competition, the Panthers have finished in the NCAA Top-20 20 times. Northern Iowa is coached by Doug Schwab.
Old Dominion comes from the Colonial Athletic Association under head coach Steve Martin. The Monarchs finished the 2011-12 season ranked 24th in the final NCAA rankings and third in the CAA. In 2012, Old Dominion sent a school-record seven wrestlers to the NCAA tournament, the fourth-highest total in the nation. Under Martin, Old Dominion has produced an All-American wrestler in four of the last five seasons.