The University of the Ozarks athletic department will add NCAA Division III men's and women's indoor and outdoor distance track, it was announced Thursday by athletics director Jimmy Clark.
The men’s and women’s programs will compete in long-distance events at track and field competitions beginning immediately. Head men’s and women’s cross country coach Jeremy Provence will also serve as the head coach of U of O’s newest athletic program.
"This opens up the door for our cross country programs to expand and attract even more long-distance runners," said Clark. "In order to improve our programs, you really need to offer distance track in the winter and spring. This is a great opportunity for Coach Provence. This gives him the tools to grow the program. To be successful at this, we needed an energetic coach, and we have that in Coach Provence."
U of O runners will compete in 800-meter, 1500-meter, 3000-meter, 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races at both indoor and outdoor events against NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA runners from across the region. The American Southwest Conference sponsors individual distance track championships each spring.
"I think adding a winter and spring long-distance season will no doubt benefit our cross country programs," said Provence. "This is an attractive program for cross country runners. It will extend our training season, which will help us compete at a higher level. Track events are exciting to be a part of as a runner. I believe track will greatly enhance the experience of our runners."
U of O offers baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor distance track, men’s and women’s outdoor distance track and men’s wrestling at the NCAA Division III varsity level. Additionally, U of O offers competitive cheer/STUNT and men’s and women’s clay target shooting, bringing the total number of competitive sports to 19.
Men’s clay target shooting, women’s clay target shooting, competitive cheer/STUNT, men’s indoor distance track, men’s outdoor distance track, women’s indoor distance track, women’s outdoor distance track and men’s wrestling have all been added this academic year.