No matter what condition you might consider the state of American running to be in — good, bad or so-so — there seems to be an inexhaustible desire in some to see growth and improvement in the professional realm. It is within that context that I received the following from Steve Taylor, track and cross country coach at the University of Richmond.
“My hope and intent is that this fills a void between elite NCAA/NAIA competition and the Elite Post Collegiate athletes,” wrote Coach Taylor, “giving our developing talent in the nation the opportunity to win money while still working on their college degree (undergraduate, graduate or post graduate work).
RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 20, 2013) — A new non-profit group called the Collegiate Running Association was announced today with intentions to provide all college students who run the opportunity to compete at national championship events and earn prize money based on performance, without compromising eligibility for those still competing in the NCAA.
The only requirement for those interested in competing in a Collegiate Running Association national championship — for road racing, trail racing or mountain racing — is that the participant must be currently enrolled in at least one college course at any level, freeing runners from various restrictions such as maintaining a full-time status and competing only during a four or five year window. These eligibility requirements provide the first opportunity for a true national championship that transcends college divisions to exist.
Founder Steve Taylor, an NCAA Division I cross country and track and field coach at the University of Richmond with more than 20 years experience at the collegiate level, began the process of creating the organization last spring after considering the idea for some time.
“College sports offer great opportunities but the rules continue to become more complex and only provide a limited time window for student-athletes to compete,” Taylor says. “Our view is that running is simple and often a life-long pursuit. There are currently no opportunities for part-time or graduate students that have exhausted their eligibility to compete at the collegiate level, and that needs to change.”
Road racing, trail racing and mountain racing are growing branches of the running community that don’t offer a collegiate championship through the NCAA. The Collegiate Running Association is planning to partner with well-established road, trail and mountain races that can accommodate large numbers of athletes on attractive courses to host the events.
“Our hope is that both social and elite college runners will want to compete in the association’s national championship events,” Taylor says. “Ideally, social running clubs will point to our championship events as their destination races, where they can participate in a huge community event and celebrate after, while the elite athletes can come in order to determine the true collegiate national champions and also earn prize money in the process.”
Top finishers in these national championships will earn prize money. A new NCAA rule that took effect in August allows current Division I student-athletes to accept prize money equal to the necessary expenses for competing in the sport through an entire calendar year — so long as they are able to present receipts for the expenses to a compliance officer upon request. Postgraduates and students without remaining NCAA eligibility don’t have limitations on the amount of money they can accept. Taylor says those factors alone will help attract the best college runners for the events.
The Collegiate Running Association will announce its first national championship event on December 3.
For more information on the Collegiate Running Association, visit collegiaterunning.org.
To see what some people in the running community are already saying about the Collegiate Running Association, visit the Collegiate Running Association Testimonials page. You can state your opinion in the comment section of this blog.
Interesting approach that showcases categories not covered by the NCAA, and that fits between varsity sports and intramurals.
“Our first national championship will be announced on December 3,” says Coach Taylor. “The race we are partnering with has guaranteed $10,000 ($5,000 for men/$5,000 for women), and money will go 10 deep in each gender. We are starting the process of securing title sponsor(s). We believe we could be the first running organization to offer prize money specifically for college students! Some people are calling that concept radical…We believe it’s simply–visionary!”
To make sure everything is kosher with the NCAA, Coach Taylor worked closely with their compliance office at the University of Richmond, and have that person on the CRA advisory board.