BENTONVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas Community College has recruited enough athletes for its new cross country team to compete this fall, a college official said.
Todd Kitchen, vice president of student services, gave an update on team recruitment Wednesday during a meeting of the college's Sports Committee.
Twelve men and three women have been signed to run for the team, which also hopes to sign a women's soccer player from Fayetteville High School, Kitchen said.
"If we started running today, we'd have enough athletes to field the team," he said.
Kitchen anticipates recruiting to slow with the approach of a July blackout period, when recruiting is prohibited.
Todd Schwartz, committee member, asked if the team would offer the opportunity for walk-ons in the fall.
Walk-ons will be encouraged, and the college will send out generic invitations to incoming students, Kitchen said.
Kitchen said he doesn't anticipate the team being capped but does want to monitor team growth closely due to the expenses associated with the team.
Trustees voted 7-1 in November 2019 to start a cross country program to compete in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association. It will be the first sanctioned sports team for the school.
Administrators and board members who supported the plan said the cross country program could draw students to the college who otherwise might not enroll. The tuition and fee revenue from those students would make up for expenses associated with the team, estimated at $54,000 per year for a team of 20, they said.
In other news, Gloria Mallow, English professor, was introduced as the newest faculty member of the committee.
Mallow has been with the college for 18 years, she said.
"I don't know a lot about recruiting or getting sports started, except what I'm learning from my grandson who's going to be playing baseball," Mallow said, noting she's hoping to contribute to good conversations in support of the committee.
Kitchen said he appreciates the academic lens Mallow's participation will lend to the committee.
Liz Anderson, executive director of advancement, provided a fundraising update for the committee. About $4,000 has been raised in support of the team, she said, with several outstanding verbal commitments.
Ryan Pulkrabek, an attorney with Walmart, said a 5-kilometer event and 1-mile adult fun run committee fundraiser is scheduled for Aug. 21 at the college's Springdale campus.
"It will be a great location," he said.
The committee originally hoped to have the event in September at the adjacent Arvest Ballpark, but that turned out to be too costly, Pulkrabek said.
Information on how to join the Northwest Arkansas Community College cross country team is available at https://www.nwacc.edu/campuslife/registeredclubsorganizations/crosscountry.aspx.