The Grand Canyon University Lopes wrestling program will be making the leap to NCAA Division I effective for the 2013-14 school year, the Arizona-based school announced Tuesday.
The Lopes (an abbreviation for antelope) currently wrestle at the NCAA Division II level in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) and compete at the NCAA Super Regional IV championship qualifier. According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, Grand Canyon will remain eligible for all RMAC and Div. II postseason championships this season.
As of now, a new Div. I conference home for the GCU wrestlers has yet to be determined. Options include the Western Wrestling Conference or the Pac-12 conference.
While GCU’s wrestling squad and other athletic teams will begin competing as D1 programs beginning next year, the reclassification process takes four years. Once the transition is complete and the school has met all NCAA standards, Grand Canyon will become a full Division I member.
“We are very excited for the future of GCU wrestling,” said head coach R.C. LaHaye. “GCU is a university that loves and supports the sport of wrestling. We started the program from scratch six years ago, and now we are heading to the highest level of intercollegiate athletics.”
“This is an historic day in the life of Grand Canyon University,” said school president and chief executive officer Brian Mueller. “We have made a commitment to excellence in athletics, just as we have academically, and that commitment has been recognized by the invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference, a conference with a storied past. NCAA Division I status will raise our university’s profile and illuminate the great things happening at Grand Canyon.”
Located in Phoenix, Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949. It is a four-year, private Christian University with an enrollment of approximately 40,000 students.
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