MAC announces SIU Edwardsville as affiliate member in men's soccer and wrestling

By Mid-American Conference | June 02, 2017, 11:10 a.m. (ET)
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today the addition of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as an affiliate member in the sports of men’s soccer and wrestling. SIU Edwardsville (SIUE) will begin as an affiliate member in men’s soccer beginning in the 2018 season and for the 2018-19 season in wrestling.


The MAC will consist of nine wrestling programs – six from full MAC membership (Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Ohio) and three affiliate members (Missouri, Old Dominion and SIUE).


With the addition of SIUE, the Conference will consist of six men’s soccer programs – four from full MAC membership (Akron, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan) and two affiliate members (SIUE and West Virginia).


“After significant study and discussion by our member institution’s coaches and administrators the Mid-American Conference has made a move to strengthen the Conference with the addition of SIU Edwardsville as an affiliate member in both men’s soccer and wrestling,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference.  “Both programs will add quality and depth to the Conference. I am pleased to welcome SIU Edwardsville, their student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans to the Mid-American Conference.”


“Joining the Mid-American Conference as an affiliate member in these two sports is not only a compliment, but also a recognition and validation of each program’s recent success,” SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt said.  “We are thankful for the opportunities granted and support given by the Missouri Valley Conference in men’s soccer and the Southern Conference in wrestling.”  


“Conference affiliations are always evolving, and institutions are constantly pursuing the best academic, social and competitive opportunities for their student-athletes,” Hewitt continued. “Our decision to accept the MAC’s invitation is based on many factors, including increased national branding, cost containment, augmentation of existing rivalries, the development of new regional rivalries and SIUE’s general student recruitment focus in major metropolitan areas. Our coaches, student-athletes and fans are going to be excited for these new challenges.”


SIUE Wrestling:

SIUE wrestling also is fresh from one of its best seasons since the move to Division I. Three SIUE wrestlers won their respective weight classes at the Southern Conference championship and advanced to the 2017 NCAA championships. Senior Jake Residori finished in eighth place, becoming SIUE’s first All-American in 30 years.


The Cougars enjoyed their most successful season in the SoCon, collecting 69.5 points to finish third at the championship. The third-place finish followed the Cougars’ best-ever regular season finish at 4-3.


SIUE wrestling owns a rich history. The Cougars have three NCAA Division II team national championships and have earned nine other top-four finishes. SIUE also claims 19 NCAA Division II individual national champions. Residori’s eighth-place finish in 2017 gave SIUE 12 NCAA Division I All-Americans, while the school boasts more than 110 Division II All-Americans.


Quote from SIUE, Head Coach, Jeremy Spates:

“The MAC is an extremely strong conference across all sports, and in wrestling it’s one of the top three or four conferences,” SIUE wrestling Head Coach Jeremy Spates said. “You have some big-time teams like Missouri and Central Michigan, and teams that are placing and bringing home All-Americans every year. It’s great for us because it is so centrally located.”


MAC Wrestling:

Last season Missouri won its fifth consecutive MAC Wrestling Tournament Championship with 154.5 total team points and six Tigers were crowned as individual champions. The MAC sent 45 wrestlers to the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, which ranked as the third most of any Division I conference.  Missouri finished fifth overall with 86.5 team points, the program’s third-highest finish in program history.


Missouri senior J’den Cox became the 12th MAC wrestling National Champion in Conference history, and the first three-time National Champion. Cox became the fifth MAC National Champion in the last seven years – joining Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore in 2011 (197 weight class), Cox in 2014, 2016, 2017 (197 weight class) and Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt in 2015 (149 weight class).


The MAC finished 2017 with eight wrestlers earning All-America status. Missouri wrestling coach Brian Smith was named the National Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) and five MAC wrestling programs were honored for top academic performance, which tied for second highest of any Division I wrestling conference.


SIUE Men’s Soccer:

SIUE men’s soccer is coming off its most successful season since its return to NCAA Division I competition in 2008. The Cougars won their second MVC tournament championship before advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA College Cup during the 2016 season. SIUE dispatched No. 13 Michigan State and No. 11 Butler on its way to the third round, where the Cougars fell to eventual runner-up Wake Forest.


The Cougars finished the year with a 10-5-7 record, marking the second consecutive year SIUE finished with at least 10 wins and the third double-digit win season in the past five years. The Cougars enjoyed a 14-game unbeaten streak from Sept. 28 until the loss to Wake Forest. SIUE finished at No. 5 in the NCAA in save percentage (.845) and 16th nationally in goals against average (0.71). The Cougars led the MVC in attendance and were 41st nationally with an average of 846 fans per contest.


The 2016 College Cup appearance marked SIUE’s 15th appearance in the NCAA Division I championship and the 23rd NCAA tournament appearance overall. SIUE won an NCAA Division I National Championship in 1979. The Cougars were national runners-up in 1975, finished third in 1977 and were national semifinalists in 1982. SIUE also captured the College Division National Title in 1972, was runner-up at the Division II level in 2004 and a semifinalist in 2005.


Quote from SIUE, Head Coach, Mario Sanchez:

“When we began to look at the direction we wanted to take the program, we realized what kind of an opportunity the MAC provides,” SIUE men’s soccer Head Coach Mario Sanchez said. “The move will help the program to advance on a regional and national level. We are excited to join and compete in one of the top men’s soccer conferences in the country.”


MAC Men’s Soccer:

During the 2016 men’s soccer season, the MAC witnessed the Akron Zips win the MAC Men’s Soccer Tournament as champions for the fifth consecutive year, the program’s 13th title overall, and advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament, the program’s 31st appearance in the NCAA Tournament.


Four students were named to the 2016 CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American team: Adam Najem of Akron, Bowling Green’s Pat Flynn and Joe Sullivan, and Jack Elliot of West Virginia.  Akron’s Najem was also selected as a First-Team NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) All-American. 


In addition, four MAC students were selected in the 2016 MLS Superdraft:  1st round, 3rd overall – F Jonathan Lewis (Akron) by New York City FC; 2nd round, 36th overall – D Danilo Radjen (Akron) by the Houston Dynamo; 4th round, 76th overall – F Russell Cicerone (Buffalo) by the Portland Timbers; and 4th round, 77th overall – F Jack Elliot (West Virginia) by the Philadelphia Union. Lastly, Akron’s Adam Najem signed a homegrown contract with the Philadelphia Union.


Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of ten members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five (5) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

Current full member institutions and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947).  The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.