2x NAIA national champion Peyton Prussin of Life University (Photo/Life University athletics)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and its National Administrative Council (NAC) voted to approve women's wrestling as the association's 28th national championship. The vote took place at the annual NAIA National Convention in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday.
With the vote, the sport moves from invitational to full national championship status. For any sport in the NAIA to achieve championship status, it must achieve a minimum of 40 institutions to sponsor the sport as a varsity program to receive consideration.
"This is a great day for the sport of wrestling and all of our women's wrestling student-athletes," said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. "Women's wrestling has seen sustained growth, and we are proud to become the first collegiate athletics association to offer this as a championship sport."
The NAIA will begin work on determining several logistics in terms of national championship format and qualification immediately and will announce during the summer.
"It's an exciting time for NAIA Women's Wrestling. I feel like we have been building to this for so many years, so to finally be at this point amazing," said Carl Murphree, NAIA Women's Wrestling Coaches' Association President. "The NAIA has led the charge in women's wrestling and gaining championship status is a big step forward."
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Lee Miracle, Campbellsville (Ky.) Women's Wrestling Head Coach
I want to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thanks to the visionary leaders of the NAIA who just approved women's wrestling as a championship sport. I've enjoyed collaborating with the NAIA and NWCA leaders over the years to help establish new NAIA affiliated intercollegiate women's teams, fill vacant head coaching positions, and provide CEO leadership training for the next great generation of aspiring coaches. It is no surprise that the NAIA, the governing body that pioneered the establishment of women's intercollegiate women's wrestling teams, is also the FIRST to commit to a national championship.
Ashley Flavin, Life (Ga.) Women's Wrestling Head Coach
I was an athlete at an NAIA school in the early 2000s when there were only a handful of schools sponsoring women's wrestling. The growth that has happened over the past 20 years, is because of the dedication from the athletes, the coaches, and the administrations that believed when most of the country did not know the sport existed. For the NAIA to elevate women's wrestling to championship status validates the dreams and the work of the thousands of young women that have come before, and the millions that will come in the future. Thank you to everyone that has played a role in this process, but especially to the young women who have always known that our place was on the mat.