Maryville College plans to open a track facility in spring 2023 with men’s and women’s teams competing.
During the college’s Founder’s Day event Friday night, Oct. 22, at the Clayton Center for the Arts, MC President Bryan F. Coker announced plans to construct the Austin Coleman Piper Memorial Track and begin recruiting for men’s and women’s track and field teams.
The expansion will give the college 16 varsity sports teams, and the track will honor the 1968 alumnus who chaired the Maryville College board of directors until his death in an accident two months ago.
Estimated to cost $2 million to $3 million, the facility will include a turf infield for use by the college’s current teams.
The board of directors approved the plan just earlier today, and the new track and field facility will be constructed right next to our new soccer pitch and softball field,” Coker told the crowd of donors and alumni who had gathered in the Ronald & Lynda Nutt Theatre. “Gifts already made to MC in memory of Cole Piper are being earmarked for this facility, and additional fundraising for the track facility will be coordinated through our Advancement Office.”
Maryville College offered track and field for male students from 1892 until 1983, and Piper was a member of the team in the 1960s.
“Those of you who knew Cole from his MC days know that track and field was a sport in which he participated and really excelled,” Coker said. “I know he would be so pleased to see this sport make a comeback here after a nearly 40-year absence, and I know he would be humbled to see his name attached to it.”
Groundbreaking is planned for March, and the college will begin recruiting for the teams immediately. Maryville College is launching a national search for a director of men’s and women’s track and field on Oct. 25.
The last sport added on the campus was golf in 2009.
Athletics Director Sara Quatrocky said the college has discussed reintroducing track and field for several years.
“Men’s and women’s track and field is a great start to our overall sport expansion plan at Maryville College,” she said. “The two programs will assist the college in enrollment, while attracting high-achieving academic students. The women’s track and field program will also assist in our efforts to offer additional opportunities for female-identifying students to participate in intercollegiate athletics.”
The USA South Athletic Conference, of which Maryville College is a member, sponsors championships in track and field, so student-athletes would be eligible to compete in not only conference championships, but NCAA championships.
Quatrocky said she expects the current men’s and women’s cross country teams to thrive with a spring addition of track and field. Long distance runners will have two seasons in which to compete during the academic year.
“When starting a program in year one, you focus on building around the distance running, sprinting, hurdles and jumping events,” she explained. “Also, our Athletic Department has some current student-athletes on other varsity teams who may be interested in competing in some of the field events.”
“This is an exciting time to be a part of our department,” she said. “After the staff has been identified, we will hit the ground running, focusing on local and regional recruiting in hopes of fielding 15 student-athletes on each of the men’s and women’s team in year one.”