Clarion U., Edinboro, Others to Leave EWL and Join MAC for College Wrestling

| March 6, 2019

CLEVELAND, Ohio – In a major shakeup that will affect the landscape of Division I college wrestling, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced a historic membership expansion on Tuesday with Clarion University as one of the new affiliate members entering the league for the 2019-2020 season.

(Photo courtesy of Clarion University Athletics)

“Clarion University is very much looking forward to competing in the Mid-American Conference as an affiliate member,” said Clarion Director of Athletics Wendy Snodgrass. “The opportunity to join a highly competitive conference enables our wrestling program to continue to compete at the highest level and elevates our entire institution. We are excited to honor the rich history of our program with this next chapter.”

The MAC will welcome seven programs into the conference for next season as current EWL members Bloomsburg, Edinboro, Lock Haven, Rider, Cleveland State and George Mason will join Clarion in departing league. That will bring the MAC to 15 total teams in 2019-20 making it the second-largest NCAA Division I wrestling conference in the country. Current MAC wrestling membership includes Buffalo, Central Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Ohio along with affiliate members Missouri, Old Dominion and SIU-Edwardsville.

“Joining the Mid-American Conference is a great opportunity for our wrestling program,” Keith Ferraro, Clarion’s head coach, said. “We have valued our time in the Eastern Wrestling League and we are proud of the tradition that we leave behind. We look forward to the competitive rigor of the MAC. This change brings about great opportunities for our program to establish new traditions and to build new rivalries. We look forward to these changes and feel honored to have the responsibility of helping to enrich the MAC for the years to come.”

The seven schools leaving the EWL consist of the entirety of the EWL.

The addition to wrestling membership enhances the MAC’s stature as one of the leading Division I Wrestling Conferences in the nation with legendary collegiate wrestling programs and solidifies membership and future growth in the sport of wrestling. This addition will also provide the MAC footprint across the Midwest towards the East Coast.

“I am pleased to welcome our new additions to the Mid-American Conference that have strong traditions in the sport of wrestling. Our membership spent significant time discussing and studying the possible inclusion of these new members and we believe this will strengthen what has already grown into an elite wrestling league,” Jon Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, said. “This addition of affiliate members is good for the Mid-American Conference and good for collegiate wrestling. It broadens our footprint across a part of the country where youth, high school, and collegiate wrestling is very strong. I look forward to the 2019-20 season when our new and enhanced membership begins competition.”

With the announcement to join the MAC, Clarion and other EWL partners that are also Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference members – Clarion, Edinboro, Bloomsburg and Lock Haven – have informed the PSAC that they will no longer participate in the conference’s annual championship.

“We are excited to learn of the opportunity for those schools to continue their outstanding wrestling traditions in a highly competitive league within our region,” PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said. “We are truly appreciative of all their contributions, having established a tremendous tradition for our conference and the collegiate competition throughout Pennsylvania. However, we understand a new affiliation will require dedication to a more demanding league schedule and preparation for opportunities outside of our league tournament. We wish them all the best.”

While Clarion wrestling will no longer be affiliated with the PSAC, all of Clarion’s NCAA Division II sports that are currently affiliated with the conference will remain in the conference.

“This new affiliation requires that we concentrate fully on our Division I membership and other scheduling opportunities,” Snodgrass said about why Clarion is leaving the PSAC in wrestling. “We thank the PSAC for helping us make a move for the betterment of our wrestling program.”

Notes on MAC Wrestling

– Allocations for the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships were announced by the NCAA last Friday, March 1. The MAC was allocated 27 qualifiers for the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
– MAC wrestling history features 12 MAC wrestlers as NCAA National Champions, as the MAC has witnessed five individual NCAA Champions in the last eight years – including Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore in 2011 (197 weight class), Missouri’s J’Den Cox in 2014, 2016 and 2017 (197 weight class), the MAC’s first-ever three-time NCAA Champion, and Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt in 2015 (149 weight class).
– During the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, the MAC was represented with 34 wrestlers. Annually, the MAC is a consistent leader in Division I Wrestling in sending wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championships – 2017 – 45 wrestlers – 3rd most in NCAA; 2016 – 45 wrestlers – 3rd most in NCAA; 2015 – 38 wrestlers – 3rd most in NCAA.
– Missouri is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation with a 16-1 record overall this season, 7-0 in the MAC. The Tigers are current six-time defending MAC wrestling champions and have won the MAC Wrestling Championship six consecutive years since joining the MAC in 2013.
– Next season the 14 MAC wrestling programs will compete in the 2020 MAC Wrestling Championship on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.

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