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NCAA approves Full Emerging Sports status for women's Division II, Division III wrestling

Augsburg's Emily Shilson gets her hand raised after getting a technical fall (Photo/David Peterson, Minnesota/USA Wrestling)

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has approved Full Emerging Sports status for women's wrestling for NCAA Division II and Division III, in a vote of members in Anaheim, Calif. Saturday.

The organization Wrestle Like A Girl posted this message on Twitter Saturday afternoon:


"Today is a very monumental day in the history of women's collegiate wrestling," said Julia Salata, Wrestle Like A Girl's Collegiate Initiative Programs Manager. "Opportunities continue to expand and this is another step in the right direction. We've had an excellent group of stakeholders, administrators, and personnel who have worked hard to make this possible and will continue to help us move forward to full championship status."

Mike Moyer, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association, summed up the significance of today's NCAA vote by saying, "Today is a great day for women's wrestling, and all of wrestling."

Lisa Goddard McGuirk, Chair of the Women's Wrestling Executive Committee -- and Gannon University Athletic Director -- said that today's NCAA vote "will afford additional opportunities for female student-athletes to pursue their academic and athletic passions at the college level."

Last summer, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics voted to recommend that all three divisions of NCAA governance structure add women's wrestling as an emerging sport effective August 1, 2020. Today's vote regarding NCAA Divisions II and III is the result of that vote six months ago.

A similar vote regarding NCAA Division I taking women's collegiate wrestling to Full Emerging Sports status is planned for this April.

What's next for women's wrestling in NCAA Division II and III? Now, thanks to Full Emerging Sports status, both D2 and D3 must each have 40 women's intercollegiate wrestling programs to reach championship status. According to Wrestle Like A Girl, there are a total of 22 Division II and III programs, with an additional 11 programs announced for the 2020-21 season, for a total of 33 programs at Division II and Division III schools. Once there are 40 women's programs in each of these divisions, the NCAA would need to maintain championship status for one full year to receive an official NCAA Women's Wrestling Championship.

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