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By Greg Johnson
NCAA Division II championships in men’s and women’s cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field will have increased student-athlete participation beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.
The number of teams in the cross country championships will increase from 24 to 32 per gender and from 16 to 24 automatic qualifiers per gender for individuals. Overall, the total number of competitors for each gender in cross country will increase from 184 to 248.
The top three teams from each regional meet will automatically advance to the finals, an increase of one team per region. Each region will be allotted one additional team berth for each team finishing in the top eight in the previous year’s national championships, which is consistent with the current procedures for selecting the finalists.
In indoor track and field, the number of student-athletes selected to the championships will increase from 200 to 270 student-athletes per gender. In outdoor track and field, the increase is from 310 to 377 per gender.
The changes were recently approved by the Division II Championships Committee and supported by the Division II Management Council, Presidents Council and Planning and Finance Committee. To finance the increases, $250,000 will come from the Division II Reserve Fund, and the rest of the support will come from the current budgets for each championship.
Members of the Division II Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee recommended the increase to align access ratios with those of other individual-team sports for Division II.
“We’ve had a big influx with a lot of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools coming into Division II,” said Committee Chair Kim Duyst, who is also the associate athletics director at Cal State Stanislaus. “That has brought in more cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams. Our ratios were pretty high compared to the targets you like to have.”
The current access ratio for the indoor track and field championships is 1:20 for men and 1:19 for women. When the additions go into place next year, those ratios will drop to approximately 1:15 for men and 1:14 for women.
In the outdoor track and field championships, the current ratio is 1:17 for men and 1:16 for women. The increase in participant numbers result in a ratio of approximately 1:14 for men and 1:13 for women.
Additionally, the 3,000-meter run will be added as a championship event for both genders in the indoor track and field championships.
“It is an international event for indoor meets, and we haven’t had it in the past,” Duyst said. “To stay in line with other traditional indoor championships, we’ve decided to add it.”
All of the championships will be conducted in the same number of days as they currently are. The cross country meets will finish in one day, the indoor track and field championships will end in two days and the outdoor track and field championships will conclude in three days.