The MAC announced the additions of ODU,
"A game changer for us," ODU coach
ODU sought a home for its wrestling program due to the school's impending move to
Old Dominion will compete within the
ODU, Missouri and Northern Iowa give the MAC nine wrestling schools, making it the nation's third-largest Division I conference, behind the
The MAC already has a pair of nationally-ranked programs in
"This will help us in recruiting," Martin said. "We go into the Midwest a lot and these are schools a lot of those kids are familiar with."
It should help scheduling, as well, since the Monarchs will be able to combine trips to conference schools with matches against other Midwestern powers and non-league schools.
The MAC sent 24 wrestlers to the NCAA championships last year, a number that should increase given the additions. The CAA had 27 qualifiers in last year's NCAA meet, but with the eventual departures of ODU and affiliate member Boston U. (the Terriers will join the Patriot League, whose wrestling programs compete in the EIWA), the conference's depth takes a hit.
ODU qualified a school-record seven wrestlers to last year's NCAA meet, from an exceptionally young team. The Monarchs have had an All-American four of the past five years, and Martin's teams have had 35 NCAA qualifiers in his eight years.
"We had a couple of options where we could have gone into conferences where we'd have won the championship every year," Martin said. "But if you want to challenge your kids and your program, you go find the toughest competition you can. This makes the MAC one of the top conferences in the country. It's great for us."