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Women’s Wrestling Aims At 2026 NCAA Championship Status

Women’s wrestling may become the 91st NCAA championship sport in 2026.

The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics voted at its Feb. 7 meeting to recommend Divisions I, II, and III sponsor legislation to add a national collegiate women's wrestling championship. The association-wide committee oversees the Emerging Sports for Women program, which includes women's wrestling.

Ragean HillRagean Hill"We are extremely proud of the work that USA Wrestling has done to make this a reality in such a short period of time,” said Ragean Hill, chair of the Committee on Women's Athletics and executive associate athletics director/senior woman administrator at Charlotte. “Also, a special thank you to the men's wrestling community for believing in our young women and championing this process."

There is a projected two-year timeline to add a women's wrestling championship. First, each division is expected to review the recommendation and sponsor a proposal by its respective 2024-25 legislative cycle deadline.

Second, as the recommendation also includes establishing a Women's Wrestling Committee, which would begin its work in January 2025, to allow time to prepare for a championship in winter 2026. If sponsored, the divisions are expected to vote on the proposals Jan. 15-18, during the 2025 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Lastly, if adopted on that timeline, the first women's wrestling championship would be held in winter 2026.

Before a women's wrestling national collegiate championship can be established, funding must be considered by the appropriate financial oversight committees among other competing priorities during the relevant annual budget development cycle.

"USA Wrestling is excited that the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics has recommended women's wrestling to become an official NCAA championship," said Rich Bender, executive director of USA Wrestling, one of the national governing bodies of women's wrestling.

"As part of the coalition of wrestling organizations that has supported women's wrestling through the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women process, this is a huge milestone for our sport and for our NCAA women student-athletes,” he continued. “We look forward to working with the NCAA leadership in the coming months during the approval process, with the goal of having the first NCAA Women's Wrestling National Championships in the 2025-26 season."

If approved by NCAA members, women's wrestling will become the sixth sport to earn NCAA championship status through the Emerging Sports for Women program, established in 1994 based on a recommendation from the NCAA Gender Equity Task Force. It would join rowing (1996), ice hockey (2000), water polo (2000), bowling (2003) and beach volleyball (2015).

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