College wrestling will undergo a change in one of its bigger events for the upcoming season.
National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer confirmed the NWCA National Duals tournament will have a new format for the 2011-12 wrestling season.
The dual event, which had been hosted in Cedar Falls since 2006, included men’s teams from NCAA Division I, II and III, NJCAA and NAIA and women’s collegiate programs competing in a double-elimination bracket competition at one location. Next season, the D-I event will be separate and be a 24-team field with qualifying competition to reach the semifinals.
“We’re trying to come up with a concept that places a lot more importance on the outcome of regular-season dual meets,” Moyer said. “The problem we have with our sport the infrastructure is designed to support an individual tournament at the end of the years.”
The changes will eventually include 24 teams, consisting of 11 conference dual champions and 13 at-large bids. Those teams will be divided into four regional meets with the champions advancing to a final four group to determine a national champion. Regional meets are set for Sunday, Feb. 12 with the final four, likely hosted by one of the competing teams, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 19.
“It’s a brand new concept and it’s going to take some tweaking,” Moyer said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that we can really help to grow the spectator base at the institutional level.”
Moyer mentioned the move was to get many universities to put an emphasis on the importance of regular-season duals to generate excitement. The goal is for the changes to help grow a big fan base on campuses.
“Iowa obviously places a lot of importance on its dual meets,” Moyer said. “A lot of programs across the country do not.”
Growing pains will exist. It may take some getting used to for all involved. Moyer said it is a necessary move to keep the sport healthy, especially at the D-I level.
“I think this is hugely important for the future of our sport,” Moyer said. “It’s going to require some sacrifice on the effort of coaches for sure.”
The other NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA divisions and women’s event will remain at the same site. Moyer said that event will be held Jan. 7-8 in Springfield, Ill. Change may spread to other levels, depending on the success of the D-I event.
“We’re trying this Division I model and learn from it,” Moyer said. “It could very well be we apply this model to some of the other collegiate divisions as well. We just didn’t want to try to do it all at once.”