ncaa-logo-gen-champs-d1otf2011 Attention IAAF Diamond League, USATF Championship Series, and other marketers and purveyors of track and field meetings. The NCAA DI Championships/Sports Management Cabinet (there’s a mouthful) announced February 17th that the 2015 and 2016 DI NCAA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be contested on alternating days to better serve the viewing public, both television and on-site.

“Through collaborative efforts we now have a unique opportunity to enhance the championship experience for the student-athletes and fans as we continue to move the sport of track and field forward,” said Gina Sperry, the chair of the Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee and associate athletics director at the University of Rhode Island.

Whataya know, somebody out there is actually thinking about track and field presentation — most likely TV, which controls all it touches.  According to the press release committee members were unanimous in their endorsement of the new format, and were moved by the logic forwarded by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association that the new alternating days format would make the meet easier for fans to follow, especially team scoring. But the committee also emphasized that alternating days will also shine a more focused spotlight on each gender to better showcase their talents and performances.

Men will compete on Wednesday (10 June) and Friday, the women on Thursday (11 June) and Saturday. This will provide a rest day for each gender, which could further assist in elevating performance, as well.

As could be expected, not everyone is a fan of the new system, but I have long been an advocate for new formatting in post-collegiate track and field. Individual event staging that showcases talent, but doesn’t connect either events or athletes to one another, offers no perceivable stakes (much less significant ones), and doesn’t amount to anything at the end of the day, has proven to be detrimental when trying the build a sustainable fan base.

The next eight NCAA T&F Championships will be contested in Eugene, Oregon at Hayward Field.  Let us see how the first year under the new system plays out, but congratulations to the NCAA for addressing this serious issue in a simple but proactive way. Professionals nota bene.



  1. This is the NCAA, at some point somebody will call foul, citing Title IX and rules will be added, changed and then revised, making one big cluster f! I love Track and Field and I will watch both, but if there is a loss in viewership on the women’s side all hell will break loose or coverage will disappear completely for both. Having been an NCAA coach, I’ve witnessed the madness first hand. Logic be damned. As long as the word “fair” is your first concern, someone has to be punished for someone else’s failures. Sadly, this is a case of “I’ve seen the enemy and it is us”
    The NCAA is a membership run body!

    1. Bobby, a sad state of affairs, for sure. At some point things have to rise or fall on their own merits. It never dawned on me when this announcement was made that people wouldn’t follow the women’s championship, because I enjoy it as much as the men’s. But the NCAA isn’t a pro league, so elements like a Bell Curve presentation, find the equilibrium for the greatest number of competitors, makes more sense here than for post-collegiate competitions. Thanks for responding.


      1. Toni, I’ve enjoyed the coverage of the SEC Championships when they were on tape delay and were continuous men’s /women’s event to event as track and field does have a bit of a lag between events. What it looses in not being live is exceeded by constant activity. As an added bonus, it has no time for too much backstory, bull and hype to get in the way of the action which usually backfires when the inevitable upset occurs. “Let’s go down to Lewis standing with the fourth place finisher to see what went wrong when we just showed it to you on replay three times and exclude the elated winners comments and then break for a commercial!”

        Thanks for the forum, truly a great site for running fans!

  2. My approval rests on the belief a well staged women’s championship would draw on its own at some level, and not have to be linked with men. I’m seeing on Twitter that most don’t share that belief. Maybe cross promote with Mixed Relays or one men’s competition of value to help bring move tickets. I guess I like the focus of split, and following team scores. it resembles other sports, but it’s true women draw less in golf, basketball, so I see that point.

  3. I’m not convinced of their thinking Tony but since they are going ahead with this experiment I hope they have – one year with women on days one and three and men on two and four and then the next year the reverse order men on days one and three and women on days two and four. That would seem appropriate to maintain evaluation of the effects and also provide some sense of equity.

  4. Toni- I wonder how long they will keep this format if the days the women are running, draw attendance numbers below the men-or vice versa, who knows? Bob Wood

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