CLEVELAND -- 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 total members. 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.
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). The eight current MAC members will compete in the 2019 MAC Wrestling Championship on March 8-9 in Norfolk, Va. on the campus of Old Dominion University. Next season the 15 MAC wrestling programs will compete in the 2020 MAC Wrestling Championship on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.
This addition to wrestling membership enhances the MAC's stature as one of the leading Division I Wrestling Conferences in the nation with legendary collegiate wrestling programs and solidifies membership and future growth in the sport of wrestling. This addition will also provide the MAC footprint across the Midwest towards the East Coast.
"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 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. I look forward to the 2019-20 season when our new and enhanced membership begins competition."
The Missouri Tigers, who are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation, are currently 16-1 overall this season, 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 witnessed five individual NCAA Champions in the last eight years - including Kent State's Dustin Kilgore in 2011 (197 weight class), Missouri's J'Den Cox in 2014, 2016 and 2017 (197 weight class), the MAC's first-ever three-time NCAA Champion, and Missouri's Drake Houdashelt in 2015 (149 weight class).
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.
During the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, the MAC was represented with 34 wrestlers. Annually, the MAC is a consistent leader in Division I Wrestling in sending wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championships - 2017 - 45 wrestlers - 3rd most in NCAA; 2016 - 45 wrestlers - 3rd most in NCAA; 2015 - 38 wrestlers - 3rd most in NCAA.
Also, in 2018 the MAC hosted for the first time in Conference history the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and set the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships total attendance record with 113,743 over the three-day, six-session, tournament and the single-session wrestling attendance record of 19,776 during Saturday's Finals session on March 17, 2018.