Since the Southeastern Conference does not sponsor wrestling, there were questions and concerns that surrounded the Missouri wrestling program which has grown to become one of the top programs in the nation. Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden made assurances on Sunday evening that the program would continue to grow under the leadership of head coach Brian Smith.
Coach Smith, Executive Associate A.D. Sarah Reesman and the National Wrestling Coaches Association released statements.
Statement from Missouri Head Coach Brian Smith:
“Over the past 18 months, the landscape of collegiate athletics has changed, which has had a major impact on our sport and our program. The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) has been preparing for these changes in regards to how they will impact both Mizzou and the remaining Big 12 Conference programs. Due to the fact that you need six teams in your conference to earn automatic NCAA qualifiers for the champion of each weight class, we can surely expect some major changes surrounding our program. While we’re still in the preliminary discussions with both the NWCA and our administration regarding our program’s future conference affiliation, we have nothing but confidence in both parties, and we know that Missouri is going to end up in a great situation.
Since taking over this program in 1998, we’ve had nothing but the utmost support from our administration. Nearly $400,000 has been invested into our facilities, which has helped turn the University of Missouri Wrestling Complex into a Regional Olympic Training Center. I am extremely confident in Chancellor Deaton’s decision, as he’s always understood the importance of academics and athletics, and has been a major supporter of our program.
We’ve had 26 All-Americans in the past 10 seasons, along with an Olympic qualifier and a Junior Freestyle World Champion. We’ve claimed the only NCAA team trophy for Missouri since the 1965 men’s indoor track and field squad won the national championship. We hold an annual wrestling camp down in Georgia, and the fans and coaches down there are excited that they have a wrestling program with our success to `represent’ the southeast. I’ve received an onslaught of positive feedback regarding this change, and our program is excited to start a new chapter of Missouri wrestling.”
Statement from Executive Associate A.D./SWA Sarah Reesman:
“Head Coach Brian Smith has built a wrestling program at Missouri that signifies what we believe in as an institution and an athletic department. Whether it’s on the mat, in the classroom or in the community, Missouri wrestling continues to represent what we look for from each of our programs here at Mizzou. We look forward to continued national success from Coach Smith’s program as Mizzou Athletics embarks on a new chapter.”
Statement from NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer:
“Simply stated, the University of Missouri wrestling program and its head coach, Brian Smith, represent the gold standard in our sport both on and off the mat. Our wrestling community has a demonstrated history of adapting to change and this situation will be no different. In fact, the NWCA is currently developing and evaluating several promising conference and regional models that will position our sport to enjoy unprecedented success that would not have otherwise be possible without (conference) realignment.”