National Collegiate Wrestling Association
|Region served||United States of America and Canada|
|Membership||162 (schools, conferences or other associations)|
|Executive Director||Jim Giunta|
|Main organ||Executive Committee|
|Website||NCWA official website|
The National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) is a nonprofit association of 162 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organize the wrestling programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. It is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and built to help the promotion of collegiate wrestling.
Many teams were formerly NCAA programs displaced by Title IX legislation and/or are preparing to join the NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA. Teams in transition not eligible for the NCAA postseason also compete in the NCWA. Notable wrestling programs to have started or competed in the NCWA and are now in other associations include: California Baptist University, Lindenwood University, Notre Dame College, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
- 1 History
- 2 Advantages
- 3 Structure
- 4 National Events
- 5 Champions and Championships
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 External links
A post-secondary athletic association built to help the promotion of collegiate wrestling, the NCWA was founded in 1997 as a 501c3 non-profit by the current executive director, Jim Giunta, after resigning as executive director of the Texas Interscholastic Wrestling Association (TIWA). At its founding the association had 13 member teams, but today the NCWA is composed of over 150 wrestling teams and clubs from across the United States and Canada. Many of these programs were formerly NCAA scholarship programs which were affected by Title IX legislation, which has resulted in many colleges being forced to give up their wrestling programs in the name of gender equality. The variety of institutions competing in the NCWA is wide and unrestricted as junior colleges, trade schools and post-secondary prep institutions compete in the same national championship as four-year colleges and universities.
Notable current teams
While the NCWA currently has over 100 schools in competition, a few programs have distinguished themselves as top-tier programs.
|Institution||Year Entered NCWA||Conference||Wrestler Accomplishments||National Championships||Notes|
|Grand Canyon University||2013||West Coast||
||Currently transitioning from NCAA D-II into NCAA D-I; transfer to be complete in 2017|
|Grand Valley State University||2000||Great Lakes||
||Wrestling program had competed in NCAA D-I, D-II, D-III, and NAIA until 1992|
|Liberty University||2011||Great Lakes||
||Was competing as a NCAA D-I program until re-classifying into NCWA|
|Marion Military Institute||2000||Southeast||
|The Apprentice School||2008||Mid-Atlantic||
|University of Central Florida||2000||Southeast||
Notable former teams
While the NCWA currently has over 100 schools in competition, it has also been home to many programs that transitioned from one association to another or that originated as an NCWA program and later changed associations.
|Institution||Year Entered NCWA||Previous Association||Year Left NCWA||Next Association||Notes|
|Alfred State College||2013||NJCAA||2017||NCAA Division III||
|Belmont Abbey College||1998||Started in NCWA||2006||NCAA Division II||
|California Baptist University||2010||NAIA||2013||NCAA Division II||
|Darton State College||2006||Started in NCWA||2008||NJCAA||
|Lindenwood University||2011||NAIA||2013||NCAA Division II||
|Lindenwood University - Belleville||2011||Started in NCWA||2013||NAIA||
|McKendree University||2011||NAIA||2013||NCAA Division II||
|Minot State University||2011||NAIA||2012||NCAA Division II||
|Newman University||2007||NAIA||2008||NCAA Division II||
|Notre Dame College||2012||NAIA||2013||NCAA Division II||
|Saint Andrews University||2011||NCAA Division II||2012||NAIA||
|Shorter University||2013||NAIA||2014||NCAA D-II||
|Simon Fraser University||2011||NCAA Division II||2012||NCAA Division II||
|Southern Illinois University Edwardsville||2009||NCAA Division II||2012||NCAA Division I||
|University of Southern Colorado||2002||Program re-started in the NCWA||2008||NCAA Division II||
|Valley Forge Military Academy and College||2004||Started in NCWA||2008||NJCAA||
- The organization and its members encourage wrestlers to compete no matter what the experience level.
- Several NCWA members have gone on to become scholarship athletes at NCAA D-I and D-II institutions.
- Several NCWA All-Americans have gone on to be NCAA All-Americans.
- A good format for the average wrestlers who still have the passion to compete in the sport they love.
- Gives smaller colleges and universities the opportunity to begin a collegiate-level program.
- Programs can be established and developed quickly without the traditional limitations of an NCAA team.
- Funding of teams is open to many sources not allowable under NCAA rule.
- Programs currently transitioning from one association to another (NCAA D-I, D-II, D-III, NAIA, NJCAA, USCAA, NCCAA, NJCAA) have a place to compete in the post-season during their transitional period.
- NCWA is always looking to implement new rules and functions of collegiate, such as instant replay for officials and the Collegiate Cup.
- The student-athletes are and have to be extremely hands-on in all of the team's operations and decision-making; this type of leadership training can prepare the student-athlete for their future careers whether in wrestling or not.
- Talented high school student-athletes who were passed over by NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA schools have a chance to compete at an NCWA program.
- Talented high school student-athletes who transferred out of an NCAA/NAIA/NJCAA school have a second chance to wrestle in college.
- Some U.S. states do not have any NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA teams with wrestling, but do have at least one NCWA wrestling program, which can make it easier for high school athletes to decide where they want to wrestle in college in terms of financial costs, like residency and tuition. These states have NCWA teams where there are no other associations represented in their states:
Similarities with NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA
- Collegiate weight classes are used (125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184, 197, 285 lbs).
- All meets and tournaments use NCAA rules and procedures.
- All conferences host a Conference Championships tournament; those who place high enough qualify for the National Championships.
- Like the NAIA, a school can enter two wrestlers in the same weight class at the Conference and National Championships (if they both qualify for the latter); one is deemed the scorer and the other the non-scorer (no advancement, match, or placement points are awarded to this wrestler).
Differences with NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA
As mentioned before, the NCWA allows many types of funding to its wrestling programs that might not be allowed by the NCAA. This can allow the wrestling team to grow at its own rate.
235 lb weight class
The NCWA is the only association with collegiate wrestling to offer an 11th weight class: 235 lbs. There are a number of benefits from this:
- This weight class bridges the weight gap between the 197 lb and 285 lb weight classes, the biggest weight disparity among any two weight classes.
- College wrestlers who wrestled in the 195 or 220 lb weight classes in high school might find this easier to compete in than having to wrestle at 197 lbs or 285 lbs.
- Schools who have two or more prominent athletes in the 197 and/or 285 lb weight classes can now give their athletes another chance to succeed individually and earn team points.
- Another weight class leads to higher team scores at tournaments.
National Championship Series
Starting in the 2013–2014 season, the National Championships in March and the Collegiate Cup Duals (previously known as the National Dual Meet Championship) directly related to each other in a team's point total. A team's finish at the Collegiate Cup Duals transferred to additional points being awarded at the National Championships.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (or "NWCA") have a National Duals tournament for NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA, NJCAA, and NCWA teams, but all do not tie into their respective National Championships point totals. Penn State University (NCAA D-I) won four straight National Championships from 2011 to 2014 – without ever competing in the NCAA D-I entry of the National Duals. The NCWA's National Championship Series is the first of any of the college divisions to have a true champion that is indicative of both its team's as well as its individuals' success.
The NCWA is divided into nine regional conferences and two divisions. Division I programs are athletic department funded or have met the NCWA's D-I criteria. Many of the Division I programs also offer athletic scholarships. Division II teams are broken into categories; Emerging Programs, that are developing into Division I teams, and Clubs that operate on campuses where there are established NCAA/NCAA/NJCAA Teams; few Division II schools are of the latter circumstance. Schools whose wrestling teams are competing in the NCWA during their school's transitional period are placed into Division I.
In August 2010, the current two-division system was passed at that year's Vision Forum and implemented for the 2011 National Championships. Since then, California Baptist University has won two of the three Division I Championships while no team has won more than one Division II Championship.
- Great Lakes
- Great Plains
- West Coast
|Conference||Year Founded||States/region||Automatic Qualifiers per weight class||Notable teams|
|Former Conference||Years Active||Region||Notes|
|North Central Conference||2003-2012||Mid-west, northern, central, northwestern||Split into Great Lake and Great Plains conferences due to large size|
|Northeastern Conference||1997-2003||Northeast, northern, Atlantic||Renamed "Northeast Conference"|
|Northern Conference||1998-2002||Mid-west, Northern||Renamed "North Central Conference"|
Wrestling clubs in the NCWA: Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech.
The NCWA sponsors five national events:
- National Collegiate Wrestling Championships
- The Women's Collegiate Wrestling Championships
- The NCWA National Duals
- The Champions Challenge
- The Vision Forum
Every year, the NCWA's Vision Forum convenes during the wrestling off-season in the summer and is held at about the same location as and set a few days before the National Wrestling Coaches Association Convention. The Vision Forum focuses on the NCWA rule changes, policies, and procedures from the previous season and if any modifications need to be made or new topics need to be discussed.
Some important changes/events that have come from the Vision Forum:
- Collegiate Cup National Championships Series; passed in 2013
- National Collegiate Grappling Association; passed in 2013
- Seven conferences re-aligned into nine conferences; passed in 2012
- Use of mat-side instant replay for officials; passed in 2011
- Two National Championships - Division I and Division II; passed in 2010
- National Dual Meet Championship; passed in 2008
- National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Association; passed in 2007
- Addition of 7th and 8th place finishes at National Championships into All-American finishes; passed in 2006
From 2010-2011, the Champions Challenge was formed by the NAIA and NCWA to bring more highlight matches to the wrestling community by pitting NAIA All-Stars against NCWA All-Stars at each weight class in a dual meet (except for 235 lbs since the NAIA does not recognize that weight class in competition). The All-Stars were usually the highest returning All-American at each weight class barring injury; the coaching staffs were one or two coaches for each school represented in the dual. The NCAA Division II is slated to join in the next event.
2010 result: NAIA 39, NCWA 3 (NAIA 1-0)
2011 result: NAIA 23, NCWA 15 (NAIA 2-0)
Champions and Championships
Since the NCWA was formed, there has been an annual National Championships post-season tournament. Until 2007, the top 6 finishers at each weight class received All-American status; starting in 2007 and continuing currently, the top 8 place-winners are recognized as All-Americans. Here, individuals are recognized for their outstanding individual achievement. They can earn team points (unless they are the non-scorer on their team) by advancing through the tournament, scoring bonus points in matches, and placing in the top 8. Teams accumulate points from all of their scoring wrestlers. The National Championships have traditionally been held in the middle of March.
- 1998 - Yale University 
- 1999 - Pensacola Christian College 
- 2000 - Pensacola Christian College 
- 2001 - Grand Valley State University 
- 2002 - Grand Valley State University 
- 2003 - Nevada 
- 2004 - University of Central Florida 
- 2005 - University of Central Florida 
- 2006 - Grand Valley State University 
- 2007 - Grand Valley State University 
- 2008 - Grand Valley State University 
- 2009 - The Apprentice School 
- 2010 - University Central Florida 
- 2011 - Division I: California Baptist 
- 2011 - Division II: Northwest Missouri State University 
- 2012 - Division I: Notre Dame College 
- 2012 - Division II: Wichita State University 
- 2013 - Division I: California Baptist University 
- 2013 - Division II: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
- 2014 - Division I: Grand Canyon University 
- 2014 - Division II: Florida Gulf Coast University 
NCWA National Dual Meet Championship/Collegiate Cup Duals Team Champions
In its thirteenth season, the NCWA hosted its first National Dual Meet Championships. Whereas the National Championships focuses more on individual success and teams can depend on one or a few exceptional wrestlers, the National Duals highlights teams with solid line-ups and good wrestlers at each weight class. It is common for teams that win or place highly in the National Duals to do so at the National Championships later. The National Duals usually take place in late January before the National Championships.
No team has won the Duals more than once. The 2013 Duals made history as the finals were the first re-match between the previous year's finalists - Liberty University, who won in 2012, and Lindenwood University wrestled each other again with Lindenwood exacting revenge and winning it in 2013.
Starting in the 2013-2014 season, two changes took place: 1) the National Dual Meet Championship was now re-named as the Collegiate Cup Duals and 2) a team's finish at the Collegiate Cup Duals would earn it a certain amount of team points at the National Championships and aid them in winning it. Two major reasons for this change were to 1) encourage more teams to want to wrestle in the Collegiate Cup Duals and, 2) while still recognizing up to two different champions at the two different tournaments, one team could be determined as the best true overall team and individual wrestling champion that year.
- 2009 - Grand Valley State University 
- 2010 - Marion Military Institute 
- 2011 - California Baptist University 
- 2012 - Liberty University 
- 2013 - Lindenwood University - St. Charles 
- 2014 - Grand Canyon University 
The 612 Project is a community outreach program created by the NCWA for its wrestlers, coaches, officials, volunteers, and staff to help the city hosting the NCWA National Duals. NCWA wrestling programs serve food to those in need and hold canned and non-persihable food drives. They later donate those goods, as well as clothes (especially jackets), to one of the city's organizations.
The name "612 Project" comes from the Biblical quote Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12 from the New Testament:
- "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
The first 612 Project took place at the 2012 National Duals in Dalton, Georgia and repeated for the 2013 and 2014 events which were also held in Dalton. It is scheduled to continue at the 2015 Collegiate Cup Duals in Dalton again.
NCWWA Women's College Wrestling Championships
The first Women's Collegiate Wrestling Championships took place in Lakeland, Florida in 2008. The NCWA sponsored this event under their new banner organization, the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Association (NCWWA). To date, the NCWA is still the only collegiate association in the United States to officially recognize women's collegiate wrestling. Whereas before matches were done using freestyle rules, as was the norm with associations like the WCWA, the NCWWA uses collegiate/folkstyle rules like in the NCWA, NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. The NCWA sponsored the first women's collegiate national championship in Lakeland, Florida in March 2008, where nine women's teams were represented. The NCWA continues to sponsor women's collegiate wrestling.
The top 3 wrestlers in each weight class are recognized as All-Americans.
The Women's College Wrestling Championships has been dominated by northern and northwestern teams. Bo Icalia has won all but the inaugural Championships - he was the head coach of Yakima Valley Community College for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and has been the head coach of Southwestern Oregon Community College since 2011. Jasmine Grant of the University of South Florida is the NCWWA's first and only 4x All-American (2011-2014) so far.
- 2008 - Simon Fraser University
- 2009 - Yakima Valley Community College
- 2010 - Yakima Valley Community College
- 2011 - Yakima Valley Community College
- 2012 - Southwestern Oregon Community College
- 2013 - Southwestern Oregon Community College
- 2014 - Southwestern Oregon Community College
Collegiate Cup Duals
At the 2013 Vision Forum, the NCWA approved a new National Championships Series to crown a true National Team Champion. The National Dual Meet Championship will be re-named the Collegiate Cup Duals. Each annual winner of the Collegiate Cup will take home the Collegiate Cup trophy. Teams that place in that tournament will earn an additional amount of team points at the start of National Championships tournament later in the season.
The team that wins the Collegiate Cup will earn 24 team points at the start of that year's National Invitation Tournament. The runner-up will receive 23, third-place 22, and so forth until the 23rd-place team receives 2 points. All other teams that participated, but did not place in the top 23 will receive 1 point.
- National Collegiate Wrestling Association (2008-09-01). "2008-09 NCWA Wrestling Plan" (PDF). NCWA. Retrieved 2008-11-20.