In the 20-21 season (If there's a season) NCAA Division I wrestling will have 79 schools competing. With the potential and probable losses of Stanford and Fresno St that will leave us with 77, if there are no other schools dropped, and according to some people, there will be a few more dropped.
Out of those 77, only 72 are true Division I schools. Lock Haven, Bloomsburg , Edinboro, and Clarion are D II schools while Franklin & Marshall is a D III school. All 5 schools were grandfathered into Division I.
There are 357 Division I schools and with only 72 true Division I sponsoring wrestling that's only 20% of the Division I schools. These crooked AD's use that as an excuse. Both Stanford and Fresno St alluded to that there were not a plethora of schools that offered men's wrestling and used that as a reason to cut their programs.
So where does that leave NCAA Men's I wrestling? In a dire situation.
The potential loses of Stanford and Fresno St have (for now) have completely decimated Division I West Coast Wrestling. California is a great wrestling state with a deep talent pool and will only have 3 D I teams in the 21-22 season, and one of those teams is self funded. Where does Cal Baptist (when D I eligible) CSUB, Cal Poly, ASU, and Oregon St go for a conference? Arkansas-LR can go to the SoCon or something like that but where do these other schools go, now that the PAC 12 Conference has been gutted?
I don't like being pessimistic because for the last few years we did see some growth with some new programs at Arkansas-LR and Presbyterian, and with 2 schools moving up from D II to D I, Cal Baptist and Bellarmine. We have seen another potential school, Western Carolina, being recommended to start a D I program. However this happens to far and few.
So in this dire situation, is there hope? I think there is.
Mike Moyer mentioned early in the pandemic that many of the mid major schools where becoming dependent on enrollment, like many of the D II, D III, & NAIA schools. Schools, like Western Carolina, who need students can attract 60 athletes by adding a men's and women's wrestling team. If D I schools decide to add men's wrestling it will probably come along with a women's team as well.
The schools that could add will be mid major schools with low enrollment. Unfortunately the power 5 schools don't need wrestling, as Stanford is making clear. Fresno St is a mid major, but the enrollment is big enough were having extra sports is not needed.
In California I can't imagine public schools needing to add wrestling. However, I can see schools in the West Coast Conference adding wrestling. This is from the 18-19 school year https://www.univstats.com/comparison/west-coast-conference/student-population/
You'll notice low male enrollment numbers for schools like St. Mary's, Univ of Pacific, Pepperdine Univ, USD, Univ of Portland etc.....8 of those schools have enrollment numbers under 10k. Here's one thing that I would think would help is capping athletic scholarship. If a conference like the West Coast Conference added wrestling, each school could cap the scholarships at 4.5 for men and 4.5 for women. That will cut down expenses. As a wrestling community we are looking opportunity. It would be nice if all schools were 9.9 but if 10 schools wanted to add wrestling and only give half of the allotted scholarships then so be it.
Anyway, it looks bad right now, and it could get worse if more schools continue to feel the pinch of the pandemic. Hopefully these mid major schools continue to need students and are looking for cost effective sports such as wrestling. My hope is that Division I wrestling can get up to 100 schools by 2025. It's a dream, but it's more fun to dream then be in despair.