For the second time in 2020, Oklahoma State will not get to host a national championship that it was set to. This time in cross country.
OSU has just finished building a state of the art cross country course, but sadly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA has canceled fall sports national championships. As for the course, cross country and track director Dave Smith is still excited for what is to come this season on the course despite the loss.
“I think we have the best cross country course in the entire world,” Smith told reporters in a Zoom call Friday. “We were going to be the first championship on ESPN. So that’s disappointing.”
Smith, although disappointed, was not surprised by NCAA President Mark Emmert’s cancellation of fall championships and said teams knew of the circumstances it would take to keep the championship alive for the fall.
“You know, it’s disappointing, not totally unexpected,” Smith said. “We knew a week or so ago that if we dropped below that 50 percent participation threshold, we would lose the current format for the championships. Just kind of talking to my colleagues around the country, we kind of saw this coming once we heard what the threshold was. So disappointing for sure, but not totally unexpected at this point.”
Despite the press conference happening less than 24 hours after the NCAA’s announcement, Smith said multiple coaches and people from other conferences had already reached out asking about a possible “championship” without all the teams — a “pseudo championship” of sorts.
“Just in the 24 hours since we heard this announcement, there’s been a lot of discussion and interest in, ‘Could we host?’” Smith said. “The coaches I’ve spoken to feel the way I do. If we can do this and have some kind of competitive opportunity for our student-athletes without burning their eligibility, we want to do it.”
Although Smith still hopes to be able to race in the fall season, his No. 1 concern is his runners’ eligibility. He doesn’t want to run this season and lose a year of eligibility and not be able to compete in the most important races of the season.
“We are going to figure out some way to have a competitive season this fall, and then maybe a NCAA championship season in the winter or spring,” Smith said. “So I told them we are going to run a 10,000-meter race with the men, and 6,000-meter race for the women on our home course on Nov. 21 whether it’s just us or us and a couple other schools in a scrimmage or in some limited season that does not burn eligibility.”