The NCAA Division One Men's and Women's Track & Field and Cross Country Committee recently released their annual report from their June proceedings meeting. The report details a variety of topics, most notably an updated proposal for an NCAA regional cross country qualification system.
In section 5b of the report, the committee -- which is under direction of the Division One Championships Finance Review Working Group -- highlighted concerns about a regional cross country proposal that was first made public by The Stride Report in late May.
According to the committee, numerous coaching bodies expressed concerns about "competitive equity, increased travel costs to sponsoring institutions, increased missed class time, increased competition – which is detrimental to cross country athletes who compete across three sports and three seasons – and the impact of consolidating altitude schools with non-altitude schools".
Based on these concerns, the committee moved forward with offering a new proposal. It should be noted that this proposal is not the same as the COVID-19 contingency plan that is currently being considered. The earliest implementation of this plan would be the fall of 2022 (if adopted).
The new proposal offers a model where five different locations would be responsible for hosting eight regional races. In other words, some site locations would have two men's regional races and two women's regional races on the same course.
In regards to qualification for the regional meet, the committee proposed a model that would require teams to have a .500 record (or higher) against the total number of teams that they competed against in a single season. The "total number of teams" has not yet been decided.
Teams would also have to finish in the top two-thirds of their conference meet in order to qualify for their respective regional meet. Teams must have finished in the top two-thirds at their conference meet and have a record of at least .500 in order to qualify for the regional meet.
However, teams that win their conference meet would automatically qualify for their respective regional meet regardless of their record.
Individuals would not be able to qualify for their regional meet if they do not finish in the top-25 of their conference meet.
It is important to note that this is only a proposal that has not yet been adopted or voted on. The Committee will continue to "explore and consider additional details". Should the proposal be accepted, the earliest implementation of the model would be the fall of 2022.
In section of 5a of the report, the committee also mentioned that potential contingency plans pertaining to championship qualification criteria may need to be implemented for the upcoming cross country season due to COVID-19 concerns. No decision has been made at this time.
In section of 5e of the report, the Committee also chose to update the language of the NCAA's championship qualification procedures. Cross country teams that start a race with a full top five, but do not have five runners finish the race, will now yield Kolas points to the teams that defeated them. Wins over DNF teams will also count when processing the common opponent comparisons during the Kolas calculations.
The decision to update the language stems from a controversial Kolas scenario during the 2019 cross country season which questioned whether or not NC State's DNF result at the Nuttycombe Invite should yield a Kolas point. This led to both Gonzaga and Princeton filing an appeal to the NCAA stating that they deserved the extra Kolas point from NC State and (therefore) a spot to the National Championships. The appeal was ultimately rejected.