The Big Ten conference and the wrestling programs at its fourteen member schools came out the big winner in terms of qualifier allocations for the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships when compared to allocations for the 2014 NCAAs, as announced by the NCAA Friday.
The Big Ten will have a minimum of 86 wrestlers taking to the mat at the 2015 NCAAs, to be held March 20-22 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, twelve more than the minimum allocation in place for the previous year’s championships, which was 74 wrestlers. In terms of number of 2015 qualifier allocations, the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) comes in second, with 43 (compared to 45 last year), with the Mid-American Conference (MAC) placing third, with 33 qualifier allocations, down from 41 for the 2014 NCAAs. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) will have 29 qualifier allocations, down from 34 last year. Other conferences with virtually no change from previous qualifier allocations include the Pacific-12 and West Regional with 19 each, and the Southern Conference, with 14.
Notably missing from the qualifier allocations list is the Big 12. Because the conference now has only four intercollegiate wrestling programs – Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia – it will no longer be allocated any automatic qualifiers, per NCAA rules that stipulate that a conference must have at least five wrestling programs to earn automatic slots in the championships.
Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data, according to the NCAA. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage at the weight class; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches’ ranking. For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament — in most cases, the conference championships — was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class.
Each qualifying tournament was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class; that slot will be awarded to the tournament champion, even if he did not meet two of the three criteria. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event will be awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish.
The NCAA qualifier allocation process for 2015 accounts for 260 wrestlers, a decrease of 30 wrestlers compared to the allocations for the 2014 NCAAs. There will be 330 wrestlers competing at the 2015 NCAAs, ten in each weight class. The other 70 at-large competitors will be announced by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee on March 11.