USTFCCCA Responds To COVID-19 Impacts On Collegiate Athletics

NEW ORLEANS – Amid the unprecedented circumstances that have transpired in recent days, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) conducted an emergency teleconference on Monday, March 16. The meeting was called to discuss the impact of recent actions implemented by organizations to protect the health and welfare of citizens.

“For the health and safety of our country and communities, we understand the call to step away from normal operations and agree with the difficult and necessary actions taken to this point amid the crisis,” said Sam Seemes, CEO of the USTFCCCA.

“Everyone in this country has felt or will feel impacts from the need to mitigate the COVID-19 situation,” Seemes added. “While cancellations of championships and seasons are a shock to the way-of-life for our membership and the student-athletes that participate in our sports, we are along for the fight — willing to help where we can and do our part. Absolutely, this is a confusing and frustrating time with known and unknown implications. For now, we must hunker down as required; however, we must also continue to address and plan for the future.”

Along with the day-to-day changes that every American must grasp, the recent events have had sharp impacts on sports at all levels across the country. For collegiate track & field, it marked an abrupt stoppage to the indoor season and effectively canceled the outdoor season.

In an effort to address these lost opportunities, as well as future eligibility and financial challenges that student-athletes will face, the USTFCCCA Board of Directors unanimously recommends that the following items are adopted by the NCAA:

  • Grant an additional season-of-competition for all current student-athletes in winter and spring sports.
  • All winter- and/or spring-sport student-athletes who were scheduled to exhaust his/her eligibility in the 2019-20 academic year be permitted to receive the same amount of countable athletic aid, during the 2020-21 academic year. Provided the student-athlete returns to his/her current institution, this aid shall be exempt from counting against the sports’ allotted scholarship limits.
  • In winter and spring equivalency sports, allow institutions to provide student-athletes who were scheduled to exhaust their eligibility during the 2019-20 academic year with additional financial aid that exceeds the amount they currently receive, up to cost-of-attendance. Provided the student-athlete returns to his/her current institution, this aid shall be exempt from counting against the sports’ allotted scholarship limits.

“Institutions, conferences, and national associations must acknowledge that this moment in time requires substantial action,” said Leroy Burrell, President of the USTFCCCA and Head Coach of Men’s and Women’s Track & Field at the University of Houston. “The Board recognizes that temporary competitive advantages and disadvantages could result; however, the student-athletes must be our primary focus. ‘Doing the right thing’ requires not only reinstating missed opportunities, but also creating a financially-feasible environment for student-athletes to return to their programs.”

About the USTFCCCA

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is a non-profit professional organization representing cross country and track & field coaches of all levels. The organization represents over 11,000 coaching members encompassing 98-percent of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA and NJCAA, as well as a number of state high school coaches associations. The USTFCCCA serves as an advocate for cross country and track & field coaches, providing a leadership structure to assist the needs of a diverse membership, serving as a lobbyist for coaches’ interests, and working as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the sports of cross country and track & field.