CLEVELAND – The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced Tuesday that it has added seven 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 seven schools have been competing in the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL), although Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro and Lock Haven also are members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
Those schools, all of which compete at the Division I level, will no longer participate in the league’s annual tournament, PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said.
“We are excited to learn of the opportunity for those schools to continue their outstanding wrestling traditions in a highly competitive league within our region,” Murray said. “We are truly appreciative of all their contributions, having established a tremendous tradition for our conference and the collegiate competition throughout Pennsylvania. However, we understand a new affiliation will require dedication to a more demanding league schedule and preparation for opportunities outside of our league tournament. We wish them all the best.”
The PSAC has undergone several changes in recent years, including the addition of Division II wrestling institutions from Gannon, Mercyhurst, Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill. The league plans to continue honoring annual team champions as those schools will remain in competition against existing Division II programs at East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Millersville and Shippensburg to form an eight-team league beginning in 2019.
“It’s one of those things that’s been a long time coming,” Pitt-Johns-town coach Pat Pecora said. “That individual type of conference tournament
– with the majority of the teams being Division II and teams that are all in our region – we see each other so often during the year, another meeting wasn’t needed.”
Pecora said the move will open a date on UPJ’s schedule.
“The D-Is will have that date that they can go and wrestle someone they want to and we can have another date where we can wrestle teams that we want to wrestle,” Pecora said.
With the additions, the MAC is now the second largest NCAA Division I Wrestling conference.
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).
“I am pleased to welcome our new additions to the Mid-American Conference that have strong traditions in the sport of wrestling. Our membership spent significant time discussing and studying the possible inclusion of these new members, and we believe this will strengthen what has already grown into an elite wrestling league,” said 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,” Steinbrecher said.
“It broadens our footprint across a part of the country where youth, high school, and collegiate wrestling is very strong. I look forward to the 2019-20 season when our new and enhanced membership begins competition.”
The MAC was allocated 27 qualifiers for the NCAA Wrestling Championships, which will be held March 21-23 in Pittsburgh.
The NCAA will announce the 330 qualifiers for the Division I Wrestling Championships on Tuesday.