NCAA clears volleyball, wrestling for '06

FARGO, N.D. -- North Dakota State University's volleyball and wrestling programs will be eligible for postseason play starting in 2006, two years earlier than expected.

The changes comes after an NCAA ruling and a push by the
National Wrestling Coaches Association and USA Wrestling to limit
the probationary period for Olympic sports to two years.

The ruling was an unexpected victory for the two sports, which were slated to be part of the five-year Division I reclassification period that barred them from playoff competition until 2008.

An NCAA membership subcommittee struck down that proposal, and countered with an interpretation of an existing rule that allows one men's and one women's sport in a Division II program, other football and basketball, to be eligible sooner for Division I

NDSU had to make the choice.

"That was very difficult," athletic director Gene Taylor said.

Wrestling was picked because it made the original push to limit the probation.

On the women's side, Taylor said volleyball was selected because of the opportunity to generate revenue, its marketability and the fact that it generally is a core sport in Division I conferences.

NDSU's administrators have known about the NCAA ruling since late August. Taylor said the school took a low-key approach because it wanted to get confirmation from the NCAA and to make sure the coaches from programs that were not selected understood the

"Now we need to help the other sports. That was our pledge to
them," said women's athletic director Lynn Dorn.

The most important benefit is recruiting. The next recruiting
class NDSU wrestling coach Bucky Maughan signs will, after a
redshirt season, be eligible for the Division I wrestling

"Tournaments are everything for wrestling," Maughan said.

Volleyball coach Zaundra Bina said the ruling could have a big impact on potential recruits from the area who might have worried about being eligible for playoffs.

"For the ones who looked at that as a negative, well, it won't
be a negative anymore," she said.