ESPN Networks to Telecast NCAA DI Cross Country Championships Through 2023
NEW ORLEANS - The USTFCCCA has combined efforts with ESPN and is pleased to announce that the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships will be presented live via telecasts on ESPN's linear channels and through ESPN's online platforms through at least 2023.
The thrilling, unpredictable event returns to live television for the first time since 2009 as the upcoming, rescheduled 2020 championships will be exclusively presented on ESPNU and available through the ESPN App on Monday, March 15, starting at 12:30 p.m., Eastern.
"We look forward to showcasing the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on ESPNU this spring and in the years to come," said Dan Margulis, ESPN senior director, programming & acquisitions. "We greatly value our relationships with both the NCAA and the USTFCCCA, and are thrilled to highlight the hard work of these student-athletes as they conclude an unparalleled season."
"This is an incredible opportunity for collegiate cross country," said Sam Seemes, CEO of the USTFCCCA. "We are ecstatic to help showcase this event to a wider audience and to continue to enhance the sport in the years ahead. It's our belief that viewers who experience the richness of compelling competition, presented in an enjoyable format, will want to learn more about the sport along with the student-athletes and coaches that make it great."
The USTFCCCA has previously worked with broadcast partners to air the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. To date, those have been the only live telecasts of the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
"We are excited that fans across the country will have an opportunity to enjoy these great championships," Abbie Day, chair of the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Track and Field and Cross Country Committee said. "To showcase the achievements of these student-athletes in front of a national television audience is an incredible opportunity and the committee is thrilled to continue our partnership with ESPN and the USTFCCCA in 2021 and for many years to come."
The two-hour live telecast on March 15 will feature, without commercial interruption, the women's six-kilometer, national-championship race at 12:50 p.m., Eastern, with the men's 10-kilometer, national-championship race to follow at 1:40 p.m., Eastern.
The event, originally scheduled for November 21, 2020, will take place at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course in Stillwater, Okla. Oklahoma State University is hosting the national championship event for the first time.
Truly unique in the collegiate sporting landscape, no other sport features the number of institutions represented on the field-of-play at one time as compared to cross country. Thirty-one teams in each race will battle to raise an NCAA Division I national-championship trophy while up to 255 student-athletes per race will be vying for individual glory.
The post-championships awards ceremony will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and through the ESPN App on mobile and connected devices.
The teams and individuals chosen to compete in the championships will be first revealed via a selection show, streamed on NCAA.com, on Sunday, March 7, 1 p.m., Eastern.
Arkansas' women and BYU's men are the defending champions. Both programs won their first NCAA cross country team crowns in 2019.
The championships telecast, produced by the USTFCCCA in coordination with TrackTown Productions, will be hosted by SportsCenter's John Anderson with Carrie Tollefson and Bill Spaulding providing analysis and play-by-play.
Anderson and Tollefson have previously teamed up on seven broadcasts of the TCS New York City Marathon while Tollefson and Spaulding's paired commentary has been featured on a number of USATF and road-racing events.
Anderson, a staple for ESPN's SportsCenter, has provided hosting and play-by-play commentary for several collegiate track & field and cross country events across ESPN networks. He has also hosted The Bowerman Presentation seven times.
Tollefson, a five-time NCAA champion and 2004 Olympian, won the Division I cross country individual title as a junior in 1997 and she led the Villanova Wildcats to the cross country national-championship crown during her 1998 senior campaign. Her work as an analyst has been featured previously with ESPN, ABC, NBC, NBCSN, and USATF.tv — a bevy of work that has featured many world-class running events.
Spaulding's broadcasting highlights include play-by-play roles for the Rio and Pyeongchang Olympics on NBC, college football for ESPN, three Penn Relays, and with a number of Boston-area universities.
About the USTFCCCA
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is a non-profit professional organization representing cross country and track & field coaches of all levels. The organization represents over 11,000 coaching members encompassing 98-percent of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA and NJCAA, as well as a number of state high school coaches associations. The USTFCCCA serves as an advocate for cross country and track & field coaches, providing a leadership structure to assist the needs of a diverse membership, serving as an activist for coaches' interests, and working as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the sports of cross country and track & field.
ESPN, Inc., is the world's leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment brand, featuring an unmatched portfolio of sports assets. It is comprised of nine U.S. 24-hour television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, Longhorn Network, SEC Network and the ACC Network; five with HD simulcast services – ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes). Other businesses include direct-to-consumer video service ESPN+, ESPN Audio (broadcast, satellite, digital, podcasts), an array of digital services (ESPN.com and many other sites, ESPN App, fantasy games and more), multi-screen ESPN3, ESPN International (26 networks, syndication, radio, digital), consumer products, ESPN Events and espnW. Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Hearst holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
About the NCAA
The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. Visit ncaa.org.