As chants of “N-C-C” rained down from the stands, echoing around the Al B. Carius Track inside Res/Rec, the North Central Men’s Track and Field team hoisted their fifth indoor national championship first-place trophy into the air. As triumphant as the weekend proved for North Central — obviously from an athletic standpoint, but also for a job well done for playing hosts — it nearly didn’t play out that way.
The typical process for colleges seeking to host a national championship is to send in bids to the NCAA. But North Central’s path to hosting this year’s national championship was anything was anything but typical. As the bidding process came to a close, the NCAA was not pleased with their bids, whether it be for the venue’s size or location. So it was after the bidding officially closed that North Central athletic director Jim Miller says the NCAA asked him to send in a bid.
Miller explains Res/Rec’s unmatched indoor track made North Central an obvious choice. Says Miller: “It’s the biggest track in the United States for Division III with a third-floor track above it, no one has any situation like this. The location is perfect as far as flying into Midway or O’Hare, 20 miles away.”
The fact that North Central is no stranger to hosting national championships certainly didn’t hurt either. Between 1982 and 2000, North Central hosted nine outdoor championships. Most recently, NCC hosted the 2013 indoor championships, just a few years after the one-of-a-kind facility opened its doors.
“Things are much different today than the last time we hosted outdoors in 2000. The NCAA and the rules committee are much more involved in the planning and overseeing the officials and other logistics,” Frank Grammarosso told former copy editor Rebecca Sage in 2013. The fact that the NCAA does take care of some of the very small details involved in the event, and the athletic department as a whole takes responsibility for the large and small-scale planning procedures, alleviates a lot of pressures that come along with hosting a national championship. The promotional banners throughout downtown Naperville announcing the championships cost upward of $9,000 to place.
Listen to the interview with Miller below:
- Christopher Roemeling and Bob Tomaszewski contributed to this piece.