How NCAA Div. 2&3 Canceling Fall Sports Affects Georgia XC

Okay, how is this going to affect the high school xc season in Georgia? Actually, it may not at all, after listening to GHSA executive director Robin Hines' interview on NPR (National Public Radio) WABE 90.1 yesterday. He took some fairly blunt questions, but held his own. Hines actually gave a positive (though brief) outlook on the soon to be kicked off XC season and how its low risk. Football, understandably is the focus, as it generates income for all the other sports for a school. Especially at smaller rural schools where there is nothing else to do on a fall Friday night than be at the game 'Under the Lights' as a social thing to do or get in trouble somewhere else. And, competition cheer was postponed till 11/21.

Veering back to the focus of this article, on Wednesday, the NCAA announced that fall sports championships for divisions 2 & 3 have effectively been canceled. The NCAA Board of Governors has directed schools and conferences to meet specific requirements if they are to conduct NCAA fall sports during the preseason, regular season and postseason. Further, each division is directed to determine its ability to meet those requirements to conduct fall championships.

This may just be the beginning of what may lead to NCAA division 1 schools following suit, but that is going to be a hard sell with all the money on the table.  UConn was the first FBS team (ACC-Power 5) that announced earlier Wednesday they would not be competing in football this Fall. The decision for division 1 has been delayed until 8/21 by the board. The NAIA already announced the cancelation of their Fall championships a few days ago. This is a very big deal for college XC. 

There are only SIX NCAA Division 1schools in Georgia... Georgia, GeorgiaTech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, and Mercer. It should be taken of note, that the vast majority of cross country runners that compete on the next level are not division 1. These student-athletes have chosen to attend lower-division schools for their own reasons. Maybe scholarship dollars, smaller campus life, but perhaps they also love to run cross country and compete, continuing to challenge themselves to be better. 

This leaves a grand total of 37 schools that have had their NCAA/NAIA Fall sports championship dreams derailed. Below is a list of the Georgia institutions of higher learning that have been affected by these decisions and have cross country programs. 

NCAA Division 2NCAA Division 3NAIA
Albany StateAgnes Scott College (w)Brenau University (w)
Augusta UniversityBerry CollegeBrewton-Parker College
Clark AtlantaCovenant CollegeDalton State College (w)
Clayton StateEmory UniversityLife University
Columbus StateLagrange CollegeMiddle Georgia State (w)
Emmanuel CollegeOglethorpe UniversityPoint University
Fort Valley StatePiedmont CollegeReinhardt University
Georgia College & StateWesleyan College (w)Sav. College of Art & Design
Georgia Southwestern
Thomas University
Morehouse College
Truett McConnell
U of North Georgia

Paine College

Savannah State

Shorter University

Valdosta State

West Georgia

Young Harris College

Now, back to Georgia high school cross country. Its 8/6 and already eight, medium to very large invitationals have canceled. The specifics of a few of these meets having to cancel are not clear, but all are COVID-19 related or they would be game on. Battle of Atlanta unexpectedly came first and was a crushing blow.  A superb venue, worthy of hosting a state championship. All the work put in to make it happen these past years by legendary coaches Richard Westbrook, Claud Spinks, and Ed Daugherty and the countless volunteers on race day

The Coach Roy Benson Marist Double Dip- the tradition alone made this a meet worth competing at every year. The course has changed over the years, but it has annually attracted some strong programs with 25 schools or more attending. Others that have canceled lately, include Pickens Preview, Berry (which used to be huge), Mercy Invitational, the Kosh Classic at Westminster, Covered Bridge HS/MS Run, the Into The Trail Invitational and the new Fowlkes Memorial Invitational. The Wingfoot XC Classic has re-scheduled for 10-8 thru 10-11 and the format has been changed. Single teams  (mixed) starting as one in waves.

There are some great meets that are pushing the tin on GHSA considerations for xc meets at their invitationals. Coach Don Livingston of Starrs Mill (the at&t Panther meet on 9-5) has set forth some serious guidelines to be followed. No fans at the finish/start line areas, designated fan-viewing areas, fans encouraged to social distance, and wear masks. At the prestigious Coach Wood Invitational,  the meet will be spread out over 2 days, with fewer athletes in each race. Fans are highly encouraged to wear masks for safety and follow protocols. The Hoya 2 Mile has an extensive list of guidelines to be followed and Bob Blastow has also added some protocols. Will other meets employ similar protocols?