Cowboy Wrestling Set to Join Big 12 Conference

July 29, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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The University of Wyoming wrestling program will have a new home beginning next season as the Big 12 Conference announced the addition of six affiliate members to the league. The Big 12 will now feature 10 teams as the four current members of the conference in Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia will be joined by the Cowboys, Air Force, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Utah Valley.

"This is great for all parties involved and this is a move in the right direction," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "This is the first step to really not only helping our program but really helping the sport in general and growing another conference to be very competitive."

The affiliate member additions are effective beginning with the 2015-16 academic year. Affiliate members will compete for the conference's postseason championship and the league's automatic qualification to NCAA postseason competition.

"This is a great opportunity for our wrestling program to compete at the highest level," UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman said. "It is a wonderful accomplishment for coach Branch and his staff and the student-athletes, and we are excited to compete in the best league in the country."

The 10-team Big 12 Championship will shift to a neutral site and expand to a two-day event with the 2016 championship set for March 5-6, at Sprint Center in Kansas City.

"We are excited to announce the addition of affiliate members in sports where the league already maintains a strong competition level," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "The additional institutions will improve and strengthen what are already strong postseason events for the Big 12. We are looking forward to welcoming coaches, student-athletes and fans from each of the affiliate institutions to future Big 12 Wrestling Championship."

The Pokes move to their fifth conference in program history. Wyoming has competed in the Rocky Mountain Conference, Mountain States/Skyline Conference, Western Athletic Conference and WWC. The Cowboys were perennial contenders in the WWC winning six conference titles with four regular-season dual titles and two NCAA West Regional/WWC Postseason Championships.