NCAA Adding Women's Wrestling to Emerging Sports Program
The NCAA has finally taken the next steps to include women's wrestling as a collegiate NCAA sport, under it's new Emerging Sports for Women program. If successful, we could see programs forming officially as early as August 1st, 2020. Women's wrestling would join acrobatics and tumbling as three sports to join the field of athletics offered by the association. Women's wrestling, as sponsored by USA Wrestling and the Wrestle Like A Girl organization, have worked hard with many others to make this happen, and we could see a marked increase in the visibility and participation of women's wrestling as a whole. Right now, women can wrestle collegiately under the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) but that operates a tier below the NCAA and doesn't have the same opportunity and access.
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For an institution to be eligible for NCAA participation it must offer a minimum of 40 varsity programs for athletics, and these emerging programs can offer avenues for them to build their base of sport sponsorships and financial aid minimums. So far, 23 schools have indicated to Wrestle Like A Girl that they would be interested in sponsoring a woman's program at the NCAA level, many of which also sponsor men's wrestling. For many institutions, this is seen as an easier than usual sponsorship because of the low added cost of adding a new team that can use existing facilities, instead of needing to build new ones.
USA Wrestling has seen continued success at the senior and age level women's freestyle teams, regularly competing for a top placement in the world with powerhouses like Japan, China, and Canada. Last year, they finished third with four medalists, including world champion Adeline Gray. USA was the world team champions in 1999, and regularly on the podium. Right now, women's wrestling in America, even in the WCWA, focuses on freestyle, so it remains to be seen if the NCAA would sponsor this addition in freestyle or folkstyle rules.