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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

MEAC Explains Why Norfolk State Sprinter Was Disqualified From Olympic Trials

MEAC Explains Why Norfolk State Sprinter Was Disqualified From Olympic Trials

Kai Cole, a fifth-year senior at NSU, ran a conference-best 10.05 in the 100-meter dash in the 2024 MEAC Championships.| Photo Courtesy of HBCU Gameday

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has responded to Norfolk State University sprinter Kai Cole’s claim that the conference failed to sanction an event that ultimately disqualified him from the Olympic trial competition.

Cole, a fifth-year senior at NSU, ran a conference-best 10.05 in the 100-meter dash, which would have placed him in a qualifying position. However, his automatic qualifying time was rejected by the United States Track and Field (USATF) organization because the event he ran the qualifying time in, the 2024 MEAC championships, was not sanctioned by the USATF.

“The MEAC was recently informed that our multiple appeals submitted to have Kai Cole approved to compete at this year’s USATF Olympic Trials were denied by USATF, despite his posting an automatic qualifying time at the MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships,” the MEAC statement began.

“Although the MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship remains an official NCAA Division-I Championship event, USATF policy changes implemented this year resulted in the event not being officially sanctioned by USATF, making all competition results ineligible for Olympic trial qualification.”

The policy changes were not mentioned in the statement, though USATF has a full page on its website dedicated to sanctioning procedures.

Among the requirements outlined by USA Track and Field is stating that it “is best practice to have your event sanctioned prior to opening participant registration for your event, but certainly no later than thirty (30) days prior to your Event. This will allow you to collect the required USATF Participant Waiver and Release of Liability during the registration process. Any sanction applications completed less than thirty (30) days prior to the event start date will incur late fees.”

The conference went on to say, “We understand Kai’s frustration and took all available steps to rectify the situation so he could compete in the Olympic trials – an opportunity he clearly deserves.”

The MEAC concluded by saying, “The MEAC fully supports our member institutions and student-athletes as they pursue their dreams and strive for excellence. We are disappointed by USATF’s decision and are working to ensure our track and field championships are USATF-sanctioned events moving forward.

The conference said they would have no further comment on the matter.

Cole released a statement on his social media expressing his disappointment in the decision. He shared that he had filed an appeal that was denied and also said that his school, Norfolk State University didn’t “fully support” his effort to get the decision overturned.

“Despite my best efforts to appeal the decision, it was still denied, and unfortunately, my university didn’t fully support me in effort to get the ruling overturned,” Cole said. “Opportunities like this don’t come around very often, so for this to be stripped away from me is truly heartbreaking.”

Norfolk State University Athletics also released a statement following the decision.

“It is with great disappointment that Norfolk State Athletics confirms the disqualification of Kai Cole’s 100-meter time, rendering him ineligible to compete at the 2024 US Olympic Trials. This news comes as a profound blow to our athletics department, as Kai is one of our most outstanding student-athletes,” the statement reads.

“Kai had earned the well-deserved opportunity to represent his country on the international stage, showcasing his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication. It is truly disheartening that he will not be able to pursue his dream of competing on one of the world’s biggest platforms this year.”

Norfolk State said Cole has become one of the “most decorated athletes” in their program’s history during his time at Norfolk State, leading their teams to six total MEAC championships. Cole also racked up nine individual conference titles, set multiple school records, and most importantly, earned consistent accolades on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

“As a department, Norfolk State Athletics stands firmly behind Kai during this difficult time. We will continue to provide unwavering support as he navigates these challenges and works towards his goals. Together, we will overcome this setback and emerge stronger than ever,” the statement continued.

“We extend our gratitude to Kai for his unwavering commitment and the pride he has brought to our institution. We also want to express our appreciation to the entire Norfolk State community for their ongoing support of our student-athletes. Your encouragement means the world to us and plays a significant role in shaping their journeys.”

Norfolk State University and Norfolk State Athletics say they stand firmly behind Kai and will continue to provide our unwavering support as he navigates these challenges.

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