KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Heart of America Athletic Conference will add women’s wrestling to the list of conference sponsored sports, beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, as part of the league’s continued growth. The addition bumps the conference’s list of sponsored sports up to 22.
“Women’s wrestling has really been gaining momentum at the collegiate level,” Commissioner Lori Thomas said. “We have a great core group in our conference and we’re looking forward to providing them with the support and recognition at the conference level.”
Five full-time conference member institutions – Baker, Central Methodist, Grand View, Missouri Valley, and William Penn – will field the women’s wrestling teams with the potential for associate members to join at a later date. Grand View (No. 11), Missouri Valley (No. 15), and Central Methodist (No. 20) were each named in the final edition of the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll back in February.
Women’s wrestling currently is recognized by the NAIA as an invitational sport with 28 institutions sponsoring the sport in 2019-20. The Heart will join the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, Mid-South Conference, and Sooner Athletic Conference as NAIA leagues sponsoring women’s wrestling.
Invitational distinction indicates that sport has enough schools to support it, is developing administrative rules, and is on the path to becoming a fully sponsored championship. Once 40 NAIA member schools sponsor the sport and the sport has completed two years in invitational status, the sport may be considered for full championship status.