NORTH MANCHESTER, Indiana — Manchester University will offer women's wrestling as a varsity intercollegiate sport starting in the 2024-25 academic year, making it the 50th NCAA Division III women’s team in the nation.
“The time is right to launch a women’s wrestling program at Manchester University. Interest in girls wrestling in high school is exploding and we are seeing that in Indiana,” said Director of Athletics Rick Espeset.
“We want to be at the forefront of helping grow the sport, providing the student-athlete experience to even more of our students and offering women the chance to compete at the college level,” he said. “We could not be more excited to add women’s wrestling.”
In addition to noting the DIII milestone, National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer said this announcement represents the 154th new women’s intercollegiate wrestling program to be added across all divisions and governing bodies since 2000.
“I extend a heartfelt thanks to the Manchester University administration for recognizing the educational value and diversity that a new intercollegiate women’s wrestling program will bring to their campus. High school girls wrestling participation numbers are exploding across the nation and these new programs are critically important in providing post-secondary educational opportunities for wrestlers in the region.” Moyer said.
“Needless to say, this is a big win for our sport and Manchester University,” he added.
Josh Hardman, head coach for Manchester’s men’s program, will become director of wrestling. Manchester will hire an associate head coach for the women’s program and another for the men’s program.
“With the growth of women’s wrestling in Indiana and across the country, it is exciting to add women’s wrestling to the Manchester University Athletic Department,” Hardman said.
“To be on the cutting edge and part of the growth of this emerging sport is something to celebrate. Manchester has always been a place that fosters individual growth, and this is just another example of the innovative, bold commitment that MU continues to make toward providing opportunities that transforms the lives of their students,” he said.
A member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Manchester offers 10 women’s NCAA-sponsored sports teams and 10 for men. Women’s wrestling will be the 11th women’s varsity sport, with a full year to recruit.
Those who are interested in women’s wrestling may apply at https://applyto.manchester.edu/register/MUWWR.