NCAA Championship Format Change (10-21-02)
Bloomington, Ind. - This season, changes have been made to the setup of intercollegiate track and field competition. The big change for the season - for schools across the nation - is the NCAA has gone from a standard time- or height-qualification to a regional qualifier to advance to the national competition. With all change being difficult, there are a variety of views on the issue, especially from IU coaches and athletes.
Head women's coach Randy Heisler feels that the change was imperative to the advancement of the sport and believes that it will create a more-equal playing field for athletes.
"We're not really sure what to expect, but the way that it is proposed and the way it looks on paper, I welcome it," said Heisler. "This battle (for a rules-change) has been going on for over 10 years. Schools in the northern part of the country have a lot less opportunity to go outside and run. There are many proponents of this change in the north and opponents to it in the south."
Because of this change, the team has dropped its first outdoor meet from the schedule in an attempt to maintain their bodies for the tough schedule that this change proposes. The team now looks to use the early competitions as more of a training opportunity rather than strict competition as qualifying times through the season no longer matter.
Men's head coach Marshall Goss was quite frank about the changes. He shares the sentiment of Heisler in thinking that the change was needed, but feels that these are growing times.
"It is exactly what we should be doing, but we are implementing it wrong. In trying to divide it up and make everybody happy, we haven't done much," said Goss. "The individuals who have worked on this change have worked their tails off and it's no fault of theirs. I commend wholeheartedly the effort of the committee. They have tried to make everybody happy and in the world of athletics, that is impossible."
Standout Danielle Carruthers believes the change is good for the sport and will create more of a head-to-head type of competition, acknowledging there are two sides to the switch to a regional format.
"The change will allow a lot of opportunity for those who would not normally have been at the meet and create diversity within the meet," said Carruthers. "It will also bring a lot more attention to the sport. However, from a competitive aspect, you have to perform well at four highly competitive meets, which is trying on a body."
Her reference to the four meets includes the Conference, regional and national meet but also the USA meet in the midst of those three.
Regardless, the change has been coming for years and is implemented for the 2002-03 season in the hopes of bettering the sport. With many athletes benefiting from this and the creation of an extremely competitive regional format, this season will be one to watch.
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