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Super Regional Disaster

NCAA Wrestling

The saga to crown a Super Regional IV team champion had drug on for 36 hours before resolving today. For the University of Central Oklahoma, that finally meant being able to officially hoist themselves the 2021 championship trophy. This is the first regional championship for UCO since 2012 and their 20th overall. It’s the icing on the cake of a successful tournament that saw the Bronchos crown three champions and qualify seven athletes for the national tournament. Coach Steidley has put the rest of Division II on notice that his program is ready to compete for a team championship in St Louis. However, their one-point margin of victory over Lindenwood University has sparked controversy and called into question the scoring of all the Super Regionals. 

The controversy hinges on such a simple word, “possible.” The rule about scoring “true second” matches can be found in Section VII, Article 6.

NCAA Rules, Sec. 8, Art. 6. True Placement Matches. When true placement matches are wrestled in an individual team advancement tournament, the team score shall be adjusted only if true placement matches are held at all possible weight classes.

But what does “possible” mean? Does that mean only if all 10 weights are contested at true second? Or does it mean if all the possible true second matches are contested. The latter is what has happened in this case, but there is still more to this story.

Up to the final decision to go with the second interpretation, NCAA Division II coaches were told by the NCAA Director of Championships and Alliances, Ryan Tressel, that true second matches would not be adjusting the team score. I have confirmed this with coaches from each Super Regional and they were all made aware of that decision. In fact, I have a screenshot of that particular email that details that scoring decision from February 25th. Keep in mind, that means the coaches were told beforehand and there is no way they could have expected a potential change.

 It appears that the scoring on Trackwrestling, the software used to manage each tournament, was set up with that in mind for Super Regionals I, II, III, V, and VI. But why the problem with Super Regional IV, you ask? It appears that the second interpretation of the rule was used. But only in that Super Regional. But why?

This discrepancy is magnified by the fact that, depending on which interpretation is used, the final result is changed. If we were to score Super Regional IV like the other Super Regionals and how the coaches expected it to be scored, Lindenwood University would be your 2021 Super Regional IV champions. It would be a historic win for a program seeking its first Division II regional championship and another step on its way to its ultimate 2021 goal of an NCAA team title.

Upon finding this error, what would you think the NCAA should do? Would it make sense to fix the one outlier in all the results, correct? No. It appears that the NCAA has chosen to now change all the Super Regionals, despite five of the six being correct per their guidelines from the NCAA Director of the Championships, to score the same as Super Regional IV. This is immediately a controversial decision. That the solution is to change the rule so drastically that it affects five of the six tournaments smacks of something more than practical sense. None of the other Super Regionals were contested. Gannon, Newberry, West Liberty, St Cloud State, and Nebraska-Kearney all won their tournaments with room to spare. Then why use the scoring, which was in error per the information given to programs, to suddenly change the results to the outlier? This is nothing short of a disastrous move by the NCAA for no apparent reason. This writer has reached out to NCAA Director Ryan Tressel asking for clarification on the decision-making process, but at the time of uploading, no answer has been given.

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