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SIU-Edwardsville joins Mid-American Conference as affiliate member in two sports

The Cougars will start MAC play in men’s soccer and wrestling in 2018.

The 2013 Mid-American Conference Championship

The Mid-American Conference announced early Friday morning the addition of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) as an affiliate member in men’s soccer and wrestling.

“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 [SIUE] as an affiliate member in both men’s soccer and wrestling,” Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, said in a press release. “Both programs will add quality and depth to the Conference. I am pleased to welcome [SIUE], their student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans to the Mid-American Conference.”

SIUE will join West Virginia as MAC affiliate members in men’s soccer. Men’s soccer has Akron, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan as full members. SIUE will take the place of Buffalo, which folded its men’s soccer program due to financial difficulties earlier this year.

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 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 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.

In wrestling, SIUE joins Missouri and Old Dominion as affiliate members. There are six full members in wrestling, including Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Ohio.

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 have three NCAA Division II team national championships and have earned nine other top-four finishes. SIUE also claims 12 NCAA Division I All-Americans, 19 NCAA Division II individual national champions and 110 NCAA Division II All-Americans.

“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.”

SIUE will begin conference play in both sports in the 2018 academic year.