NCAA DI cabinet still reviewing track championship qualifying events

NCAA DI cabinet still reviewing track championship qualifying events

The Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet charged the Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee to provide recommendations on ways to improve the two-site preliminary-round qualifying format that was implemented this spring in outdoor track and field.

Cabinet members, who met Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis, reviewed feedback on the two-site preliminary-round format, which included opportunities for improvement, and asked for suggestions on enhancing these events by the cabinet’s next meeting in February 2011.

The cabinet has discussed the format of track and field regionals in recent years, even considering whether to eliminate the qualifying meets, since it costs institutions to send their track and field student-athletes to the regionals.

The two-site preliminary-round qualifying format replaces a four-regional format that existed before.

Among the alternatives moving forward is a plan the cabinet has seen before called a “24/8” model, which is the result of a collaborative effort between the track and field committee and the U.S. Track and Field Coaches and Cross Country Coaches Association. The model would replace the regional qualifying meets and create a one-site championship format that would accommodate 32 participants in individual events and 24 teams for relay events.

The top 24 declared individuals in each individual event would have access to the championships meet. The remaining eight participants would be the next best conference champions decided by a national season-best, descending-order list.

In relays, the top 18 declared teams would have access to the NCAA championship meet, with the next best six conference champions filling out the field. Again, that would be determined by a national season-best, descending-order list.

When the cabinet reviewed this model in June, some members were concerned about not having a more inclusive automatic-qualifying system and that too many conference champions would not have access to the NCAA meet. Others suggested that the new two-region model should be evaluated before eliminating the regionals.

The issue at hand is how the track and field committee and cabinet can best balance access to the championships with appropriate deference to obvious qualifiers and costs to institutions.

While cabinet members are interested in hearing formal recommendations on improvement to the existing qualifying system, they also asked that the committee continue working to develop a schedule for a single-site championship and present that to the cabinet in February 2011.