The sport will have 10 years to reach 40 schools, at which point if women's wrestling is in that number of schools and has a valid number of participants, will be granted status as a fully functioning Division I sport. If not, it'll be dropped.
From the NCAA:
In the past 21 years, some have become championship sports (beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo and bowling), while others have been added to or removed from the list. Bylaws require that emerging sports must gain championship status (minimum 40 varsity NCAA programs for individual and team sports; with the exception of Division III requiring only 28 varsity programs for team sports) within 10 years or show steady progress toward that goal to remain on the list. Institutions are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet the membership minimum sports-sponsorship requirements and, in Divisions I and II, minimum financial aid requirements.
But wrestling has one heck of a head start. There are currently 23 women's wrestling programs at the NCAA level and another 13 that are looking to be added in the coming two seasons. If that weren't enough there has been buzz about a handful more announcing in the coming months.
Women's wrestling will meet the requirement, but it'll be on all of us to support these programs when times turn tougher. Just like the men's side there are plenty of factors -- a down economy, campus scandal, or crazy athletic director -- that could put these gains at risk. We need to stay as vigilant in the future as we are today.
Congrats again to all those involved. Can't wait to see who adds programs over the next few years!
To your questions …
Q: Any idea what NCAA women's wrestling might look like in five years?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Tough to predict, but I'd hope for 60-plus programs, conference championships and for an established end-of-year national championship. The last part may be difficult, but there is always a chance that the momentum is strong enough to get the NCAA committees to act.
Where I'm most interested to see the growth is in which schools will add, and why. For example, would a women's offset entice a school like Texas to add both a men's and women's program? Could the women actually draw out the schools who couldn't lift the creation of another sport due to Title IX?
I think year five is when we might start seeing schools like Oregon, Clemson, Texas and Syracuse enter or reenter the sport.
Pat Downey after winning the U.S. Open title (Photo/Larry Slater)
Q: Has Pat Downey ever even missed weight? Why is this the narrative?
Foley: Because USA Wrestling is requiring him make weight so everybody is kidding that it will be a barnburner. On his Twitter he said he's never missed weight. Also, I think he's pretty light in general.
Q: Will there be a non-Olympic weight World Championships in 2020 like there was in 2016? I checked the UWW schedule and press release and couldn't find any info.
-- Jared W.
Foley: Nothing has been decided, but the belief is that there will be a World Championships later in the year. The incentive and opportunity for some nations to earn world titles would seem too tempting for UWW to turn its back. Still, nothing is confirmed likely because the hosting requirements might make it a tough sell for member nations.
When new info pops up, or a local organizer pops up to take on the bid, I'll be sure to keep you informed.
Link: Lucha en espanol
Link: Junior Europeans is a big deal!
Q: Will women's wrestling ever add Greco-Roman wrestling? Do women want to compete in Greco-Roman? Was the reason it wasn't added because of numbers? With the growth of the sport, would that ever be considered?
-- Matt K.
Foley: Greco-Roman for women has always seemed like the logical offset for men's Greco-Roman. However, there are some serious concerns that women won't be able to generate enough power to throw other women in a fashion that would be entertaining to them, or the audience.
There is some truth in this and it's due to the way weight is typically distributed on men and women. With women having more weight in their hips, the power necessary to throw them is increased. For men, the weight and muscle up top is better suited.
Canada has hosted a few Greco-Roman tournaments for women and they seem to have gone OK, but they certainly didn't inspire several other countries to join in. It's much more likely that a sport like beach wrestling would be used to offset any mandatory gender requirements set out by the IOC. It's much more accessible to more nations and would be way, way more entertaining to fans around the world.
Q: With the retirement of Mo Lawal (Congrats on an excellent career!), I am reminded that Steve Mocco left Lehigh University's coaching ranks several years ago for Florida and an MMA career (appropriate for someone with BOTH wrestling and Judo backgrounds). I've never seen him compete … and haven't heard anything since! What's he doing recently?
-- The Doc
Foley: From what I can tell Mocco took his last fight in 2015 and is now focused on his kids wrestling clubs and coaching wrestling to fighters at American Top Team. There really isn't much reason to think he'd get back in the cage. Talents like his are pretty well paid in the MMA world without having to take on much brain damage.
And yes, a big congrats to Mo!
Q: Do you have any recommendations for wrestling-related books? I've read "A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable," "Foxcatcher," Henry Cejudo's "American Victory," and "The Cage" by Rollie Peterkin. Looking for something new to read.
If you don't have any wrestling-related book recommendations, do you have any book recommendations in general?
-- John G.
Foley: I've recommended it before, but the first several chapters of "The Magnificent Scufflers" is worth the purchase. It covers a lot of what happened in the early days of the sport in America.
The best book I've read this year was "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland." You really can't put it down. That and I read "All The Light We Cannot See" last year and still think about it.
Q: Which "underdog" in freestyle has the best chance to win at Final X this weekend, Zain Retherford, Bo Nickal or Gable Steveson?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Zain Retherford.