SoCon picks up three schools in wrestling

The Southern Conference has awarded affiliate memberships to three schools and has upped its wrestling membership to eight with the addition of Gardner-Webb, Campbell University and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

"Wrestling is in a very vulnerable position right now and adding three teams gives us two above the mandated six teams necessary to have automatic [NCAA] tournament qualifiers," said University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Heath Eslinger said. "We don't have to worry on a year-in and year-out basis."

The league fell to five wrestling members when UNC Greensboro, the SoCon tournament champion in 2009-10, dropped its program following the 2010-11 season.

"I'm excited about the programs that were added," said Matt Pope, the Mocs' senior associate athletic director. "Adding these programs gives our conference a bit of an edge should anybody decide to change how the handle wrestling.