The NCAA hosted their first cross country national championship back in 1938, when Indiana University took home the inaugural title. Since then, cross country has grown to over 1,500 university teams and is closely aligned with track & field (or athletics). Most college XC runners will be expected to participate in the long-distance track events for their university’s track and field team.
College cross country has produced many outstanding runners throughout history, with the foremost being the University of Oregon’s legendary Steve Prefontaine. More recently, Oregon has produced Edward Chiserek and Galen Rupp, two of the best long-distance runners of the 21st century.
Colleges that compete at the NCAA Division I (DI) level are allowed to give 18 full scholarships to the women’s team and 12.6 full scholarships to the men’s team. NCAA DII colleges can distribute 12.6 full scholarships to each of the men’s and women’s teams, while NCAA DIII universities do not give sports scholarships. NAIA universities match the NCAA DI scholarship distribution rules, while NJCAA colleges give out 10 full scholarships to each of the men’s and women’s teams.
Universities in the Western and Southern regions of the USA will compete all year round, while those in the Northeast and Midwest regions must take a break due to the harsh winters. Institutions in these areas will have indoor running tracks where distance athletes will train in climate-controlled conditions.
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