CLEVELAND, Ohio, March 5, 2019 – The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today a historic membership expansion in the sport of wrestling as the MAC has added seven new affiliate members – Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven, Rider, George Mason and Cleveland State – to begin competing in the MAC with the 2019-20 wrestling season.
The addition of seven new affiliate members increases MAC wrestling membership to 15 teams. Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven, Rider, George Mason and Cleveland State all have joined the MAC from the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) making the MAC the second largest NCAA Division I wrestling conference.
The Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) has 16 teams and the Big 10 has 14 teams. Wrestling was the only sport sponsored by the EWL. Sacred Heart University, Connecticut’s only Division I program, is a member of the EIWA.
MAC wrestling membership includes Buffalo, Central Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Ohio, along with current affiliate members Missouri (since 2013), Old Dominion (since 2013) and SIU Edwardsville (since 2018). Next season the 15 MAC wrestling programs will compete in the 2020 MAC wrestling championships at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.
“The seven EWL wrestling schools are a great addition for the MAC,” said Ohio University head coach Joel Greenlee. “Many of the EWL schools are traditional wrestling powers and they are located in the hotbed of wrestling. They also have a long history with a great deal of success. This addition will make the MAC one of the premier wrestling conferences in collegiate wrestling.”
Missouri, which is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation, is 16-1 and 7-0 in the MAC. The Tigers are current six-time defending MAC wrestling champions and have won the MAC wrestling championship six consecutive years since joining the MAC in 2013.
MAC wrestling history features 12 MAC wrestlers as NCAA national champions, as the MAC has crowned five individual NCAA champions in the last eight years – including Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore (197) in 2011, Missouri’s J’Den Cox (197) in 2014, 2016 and 2017, the MAC’s first-ever three-time NCAA Champion, and Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt (149) in 2015.
“This is an exciting development for MAC wrestling,” said Tom Borrelli, head coach at Central Michigan. “It is an opportunity for the Mid-American Conference to expand its footprint nationally and gain strength through increased numbers. Moving forward this expanded conference should create even better competition for our wrestlers and all the wrestling programs.”
Last week, the MAC was allocated 27 qualifiers for the 2019 NCAA wrestling championships coming March 21-23 in Pittsburgh. The NCAA will announce the 330 qualifiers for the Division I wrestling championships on Tuesday, March 12.
“We believe this will strengthen what has already grown into an elite wrestling league,” said Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “This addition of affiliate members is good for the Mid-American Conference, and good for collegiate wrestling. It broadens our footprint across a part of the country where youth, high school, and collegiate wrestling is very strong.”