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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 29 2012

College wrestling: Missouri still an independent

FARGO – What started as an apparent University of Missouri flirtation with the Western Wrestling Conference at the coaching level was quickly squashed at the athletic director level. The Tigers are status quo for now.

NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said Missouri AD Mike Alden told him a newspaper report in Columbia, Mo., that indicated Mizzou’s desire to join NDSU’s wrestling league was premature.

“He said the coach got a little ahead of himself,” Taylor said.

Missouri is joining the Southeastern Conference this fall, but the SEC does not have wrestling. Missouri competed in the Big 12 Conference that had just four wrestling programs.

It appears the Big 12 will go ahead with three teams – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa State – and Missouri will act more like an independent this season. The Tigers do have WWC teams NDSU, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa on their schedule.

The Bison will travel to Missouri this year and the Tigers will return to Fargo in 2013-14, said NDSU head coach Roger Kish.

Taylor, who talked with Alden at a national athletic directors meeting in Dallas, said Alden told him wrestling has bigger conference issues to deal with first before Missouri will commit anywhere.

That issue will be on the agenda at the National Wrestling Coaches Association convention in August, according to the Missourian newspaper. Missouri head coach Brian Smith is the president of that group.

“There are a lot of pros and cons with realigning conferences,” Kish said. “But it’s something we definitely need to talk about.”

The Western Wrestling Conference also includes Wyoming, Air Force, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley University. Taylor said he would welcome the addition of Missouri if the Tigers wanted to join.

“I think it was just an option for them to talk about,” Kish said of Missouri. “It’s just an idea they had and I think that’s where it about ended.”

Conference issues are nothing new to wrestling, which has long haggled over qualifiers for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. It’s a power struggle for leagues like the Western Wrestling Conference.

“We need to talk about things like what regions make sense,” Taylor said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.