Coaches don't get why UA passed up for NCAA outdoor meet

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018
This aerial photo shows John McDonnell Field on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.
Photo by Jason Ivester
This aerial photo shows John McDonnell Field on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

FAYETTEVILLE -- When Oregon announced it couldn't host the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2019 and 2020 as scheduled because of renovations to Hayward Field, the Arkansas Razorbacks hoped to fill the void in one of those years.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville made a bid to host the meet in 2020 but won't get the opportunity.

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The NCAA last week announced Texas will host the meet in 2019 and 2020. Then the NCAA added to Arkansas' frustration by announcing the meet will return to Oregon -- where it will be held June 6-9 of this year for the sixth consecutive year -- in 2021 and 2022.

So 2009 remains the only time the NCAA Outdoor Championships have been held at Arkansas' John McDonnell Field, which opened in 2006 and was built with the idea of hosting national meets.

Chris Bucknam, coach of the Razorbacks' No. 11-ranked men's team, said he doesn't know why the NCAA picked Texas over Arkansas to host the 2020 meet.

"Maybe there's somebody that doesn't like us there," Bucknam said. "I'm not quite sure. I don't know if they were looking for a two-year bid, and we bid for just one out of the two years."

Lance Harter, coach of the Razorbacks' No. 1 women's team, shared Bucknam's disappointment .

"Of course we'd love to host the national outdoor championships and strut our stuff at our facility and our community," Harter said. "But unfortunately it just didn't happen."

Arkansas has hosted the NCAA Indoor Championships 12 times at the Randal Tyson Center and will host the meet again in 2021. The Razorbacks hosted the NCAA Indoor meet nine consecutive years from 2000-2008, and in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

"They've always enjoyed coming here for indoors," Harter said. "The community and the university have done a great job of hosting. Our officials are fantastic, and we always put on a good show and we could do that outdoors just as well."

Arkansas will host the SEC Outdoor Championships in 2019 and the NCAA West preliminaries in 2022.

"We've got our fish to fry, and we're not going to worry about it," Bucknam said of not hosting the NCAA Outdoor meet. "It's the hand we've been dealt, so we're just going to do what we can to make Fayetteville a great destination on other dates. We'll just move on."

Oregon's renovation of Hayward Field is expected to cost about $200 million -- with Nike co-founder Phil Knight, an Oregon graduate, financing most of the project -- and Bucknam said he expects the Ducks to host most NCAA Outdoor Championships in the future.

"Honestly, I haven't gotten that deep into the weeds with it as far as what's going to happen," Bucknam said. "I just foresee it being that way."

Sports on 04/25/2018

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