Big 12 Finally Has A Wrestling Conference

The Big 12 Conference has added six affiliate members to its postseason wrestling competition as Air Force, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming will join Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia in future Big 12 Wrestling Championships.

The league had struggled with wrestling since losing longtime wrestling members Nebraska and Missouri during the realignment moves made in 2010 and 2011.

"I'm so fired up that the conference has moved in this direction and I'm really excited about the opportunities that we have in wrestling now," Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith said. "Adding six additional teams is going to strengthen our conference and help us to be more competitive at a national level. I really appreciate the stance that the Big 12 and Commissioner Bob Bowlsby have taken."

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.

Last year at the NCAA Wrestling National Championships in St. Louis, Mo., North Dakota State finished best of the schools being added to the Big 12 at 23rd in the NCAA. Wyoming finished 39th in the event and Northern Colorado scored points and finished 46th. Moving into the Big 12 should help the recruiting and the stature of the incoming programs while adding to the schedule and strength of the Big 12 as a wrestling conference.

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," Bowlsby said. "The additional institutions will improve and strengthen what are already strong postseason events for the Big 12."

Bowlsby is a former wrestler as a student-athlete in his undergraduate collegiate days at the University of Northern Iowa.

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