Vision Forum Recap Includes Award From NWCA
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The National Collegiate Wrestling Association concluded its annual Vision Forum last weekend earning national recognition from the coaches’ association, while also welcoming new members to its group, establishing new conference alignment for the upcoming season, and expanding the field for the 2013 NCWA Championships that will have a new host site.
The highlight of the four-day event, held alongside the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s annual convention at the Harbor Beach Marriott, was the NWCA’s announcement honoring NCWA Executive Director Jim Giunta with its Meritorious Service Award. Giunta created the NCWA in 1997, and his leadership has been the catalyst for the association doubling in size in the past seven seasons to more than 160 member programs.
The award carries this script on its plaque: “In appreciation for your outstanding contributions in supporting and promoting the sport of amateur wrestling, the wrestling community hereby wishes to express its heartfelt thanks for your tireless effort, valuable time and pure dedication. – Presented by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.”
The surprise award given in front of hundreds of convention attendees is a first for an NCWA representative, and achieves another landmark as the association earns greater national recognition and respect.
“Even though there’s one person’s name on the award, it’s not one person’s award,” Giunta said. “The achievements of the NCWA are attributed to all of the work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers. I’m thankful to accept the award on behalf of all of those who actually achieved it.”
There were plenty of other big announcements coming out of the Forum.
The explosive growth of the NCWA, which expects to expand in membership for a 15th consecutive season this fall, mandated the creation of additional conferences. The NCWA will have nine conferences for the 2012-13 season after paring two of its former seven conferences into halves.
Among the changes:
* The North Central Conference will be split, and will retain Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. A new name of ‘Great Lakes Conference’ has been proposed for this conference if it doesn’t keep its North Central brand.
* The members split off from the North Central Conference will form a new ‘Great Plains Conference’ to be composed of Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. A split of the Southwest Conference allowed for Colorado, Kansas and Missouri to join the Great Plains.
* The Southwest Conference will retain Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas.
* The NCWA Executive Board has offered the West Coast Conference the opportunity to split into two separate conferences. Membership within the WCC will make the decision along with input from the board. A revived ‘Northwest Conference’ would be composed of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and British Columbia. Its creation, however, would be contingent upon sufficient leadership to establish a Conference Board of Directors and a host for the conference tournament. California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah would remain in the West Coast Conference.
* Two other states will be realigned into other conferences for the 2012-13 season: Maryland will move into the Mideast Conference, and Kentucky will be realigned into the Mid-Atlantic Conference.
In other news, qualification for the NCWA Championships will also change for the upcoming season.
The national brackets will expand to 34 automatic qualifiers in each weight class. In addition, 66 wild-card qualifying spots will be allocated among the 11 brackets. These wild-cards do not have to be allocated evenly among the brackets. Each conference’s Executive Board will determine 60 of the wild-card representatives at their respective conference championships. The six remaining wild cards will be determined by the NCWA Executive Board.
The board selected Allen, Texas, as host to the 2013 Championships. The Allen Event Center, a three-year-old arena located just north of Dallas, is a 6,275-seat arena that also hosts minor league hockey, football and soccer teams as well as the Miss Texas Pageant. It is surrounded by the Village at Allen shopping complex that contains a major hotel and dozens of restaurant and retail options.
The NCWA announced that at least seven programs have joined for the 2012-13 season, and is awaiting official membership notification from six other schools. New member Cheney University of Pennsylvania was represented by Antoine DeLoach at the Vision Forum. Other new members include the College of Southern Nevada, Penn State-Mont Alto, Rice, Washington State and Westchester Community College (N.Y.). Tennessee Temple will also resurrect its NCWA program this year.
The major calendar dates for the 2012-13 season are:
Jan. 18-19, 2013 – NCWA National Duals in Dalton, Ga.
March 2-3, 2013 – NCWA Conference Championships, various sites
March 14-16, 2013 – NCWA Championships, Allen, Texas