April 27, 2006
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -
Eight intercollegiate institutions have announcedthe formation of the Western Wrestling Conference (WWC). The NCAADivision I wrestling-only alliance will begin competition in the 2006-07season.
Charter members of the Western Wrestling Conference will include: theUnited States Air Force Academy, Fresno State University, North DakotaState University, the University of Northern Colorado, the University ofNorthern Iowa, South Dakota State University, Utah Valley State Collegeand the University of Wyoming.
"I am excited about this conference for several reasons, the main reason being that these guys will get to be involved in all the rivalry and excitement, and even pressure that comes with intraconference competition," said UW head coach Steven Suder. "Ultimately we plan for this WWC end of the year championship to be our NCAA qualifier. There will be some `growing pains' I'm sure, but the benefits to these athletes and their collegiate experience far outweigh those pains. I am very appreciative of all the work and planning that our administration has gone through to make this wrestling specific conference a reality. This is a significant step toward enhancing this particular group of athletes' experience."
With league members spread out over seven states and three time zones,schools will only be required to compete against five league schools indual action to be eligible for the regular season conferencechampionship. Schools will be encouraged to schedule as many conferenceschools as possible.
Four of the members currently compete in the NCAA West Regional and theyinclude Air Force, Fresno State, UNI and Wyoming. Northern Colorado,North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Utah Valley State aretransitioning their programs to the Division I level. UNC, NDSU, SDSUwill be eligible for the NCAA Championships in 2006-07, while UVSC willbe eligible for the postseason in 2009-10.
The 2007 NCAA West Regional will still serve as the NCAA qualifyingtournament and will be hosted by the University of Northern Iowa. Thegoal of the league is to replace the West Regional with the conferencetournament, which would then serve as the NCAA qualifier.
The WWC will submit its application for formal recognition to the NCAA.The WWC plans to recognize student-athletes on both a weekly andfull-season basis. Individual awards will include Wrestler of the Week;All-Conference teams; an Academic All-Conference team; and Wrestler,Newcomer and Coach of the Year awards. The league will also crown a teamchampion following the conclusion of the regular season conferencecompetition and the postseason tournament.
The governance of the Western Wrestling Conference will remain primarilywith the member institutions. Scheduling of contests, assignment ofofficials and certain media relations functions will remain with memberinstitutions.
Colonel William Walker of the United States Air Force Academy will serveas the Conference Commissioner, while Colin McDonough of UNI will serveas the WWC Media Relations Director.
"This is a very important alliance between quality institutions," Walkersaid. "We think that it will strengthen our programs and provide abetter experience for our student-athletes."
The eight member schools are spread out of over seven states and threetime zones, which will give each school added exposure - both in termsof media and recruiting - in new destinations. The conferenceaffiliation is also expected to generate much interest within the eightschools' substantial alumni base, which numbers nearly 800,000 combined.