VESTAL, N.Y. -- Binghamton University wrestling scored a big victory off the mat on Thursday when the Bearcats were accepted into the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) beginning in the 2013-14 season.
The EIWA is the oldest and one of the most prestigious conferences in the country and in gaining membership, BU will wrestle alongside such elite programs and institutions as Harvard and Cornell. The EIWA announced today that it will add four teams to its current membership (14) for next season, and earning invitations along with Binghamton were Hofstra, Drexel and Boston University -- all previously aligned with the CAA.
"We are honored to have our wrestling program invited for membership in the EIWA," Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott said. "The EIWA represents scholarship and athletic achievement on a national level and we are excited to compete alongside such renowned institutions and wrestling programs."
The composition of the EIWA features six Ivy League and five Patriot League members. The current 14-school membership is: American, Army, Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Cornell, Franklin & Marshall, Harvard, Lehigh, Navy, Penn, Princeton, Rutgers, Sacred Heart.
"This is monumental on a number of levels," head coach Matt Dernlan said. "Academically, it speaks volumes about Binghamton as an institution and President Stenger's vision moving forward that we are seen as ‘in line' with some of the most elite private schools in the country. From a wrestling standpoint, to be viewed as adding value to one of the most powerful wrestling conferences in the country speaks to what the future holds as we progress as an emerging national power.
"We are grateful for the efforts of Greg Strobel, executive director of the EIWA and Associate AD at Lehigh, as well as other administrators and members of the committee. We also are indebted to Steve Erber, current Cornell administrator (and founder and former coach of Binghamton wrestling). Steve's been instrumental leading the charge on our behalf, and it took many hours and months of deliberations to make this a reality."
The EIWA has crowned 88 individual NCAA champions in its storied history, which dates back to 1905. The conference held its 109th championship this past March at Rutgers, and the strength of the conference has resulted in 50 NCAA automatic berths being allotted to member schools in 2012-13 (45 automatic). That number of qualifiers was second only to the Big Ten and was more than double the allotments given to the CAA. The EIWA crowned 13 All-Americans in 2012 and had three teams finish in the NCAA top-10 (Cornell, American, Lehigh) in 2011. Cornell has captured the last seven EIWA titles.
The 2014 EIWA Championship will be hosted by Penn and the Bearcats will be eligible to compete for NCAA berths and the team title immediately.
"The EIWA Championship is one of the premier NCAA qualifiers in the country," Dernlan added. "It will be a great challenge - one we've positioned ourselves for – and an opportunity to move Binghamton wrestling forward on the national scene. What better platform to do that than at arguably the second-most competitive qualifying tournament in the country, behind only the Big Ten."
The Bearcats will likely add many of the EIWA members to the team's dual match schedule for the upcoming seasons.
"We're excited to forge new relationships and grow new rivalries with some of the premier institutions in the Northeast."
Binghamton has churned out 21 NCAA qualifiers in the last four years.