Akron, Ohio and the distance running world received some good news on Tuesday morning.
On December 13th, Akron's Athletic Department officially announced via Twitter that the Zips will be bringing back men's cross country as a varsity-sponsored sport. The team is expected to return to competition in the fall of 2023.
The link listed in the tweet redirects only to the university's cross country page where there does not appear to be a formally written announcement at the time of publication.
The Akron men were one of the very first NCAA teams affected by the COVID-related budget cuts across the nation over two years ago. In the spring of 2020, it was announced that the Zips would no longer be sponsoring men's cross country, the first of numerous NCAA cross country teams that were eventually axed.
In the initial announcement, Akron's decision to cut men's cross country, as well as men's golf and women's tennis, was projected to save approximately $4.4 million for the university.
However, multiple NCAA programs that originally cut their men's cross country and/or track and field teams such as Brown University, William & Mary and Clemson ultimately petitioned to have their teams reinstated. All three of those schools ultimately brought back their cross country and track and field programs within a year of their original decision.
Akron is the former home (collegiately) to Olympic 800 meter medalist Clayton Murphy, a middle distance superstar who currently runs for Nike as a professional. Murphy has been an outspoken opponent of the university's initial decision to cut men's cross country, rescinding permission for the Zips' Athletic Department to use his name or image for promotional materials.
In the fall of 2019, just four months before Akron opted to slash men's cross country from their varsity sports offerings, the Zips made history by having Marc Migliozzi qualify for the 2019 NCAA XC Championships. He was the first male individual cross country national meet qualifier in program history.