MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- The Auburn University at Montgomery athletic department has announced the addition of men's and women's cross country to its slate of varsity sports, which will begin competition in the fall of 2011. The teams will compete at the NAIA level, increasing AUM's number of varsity sports to 10.
"AUM is excited to announce the addition of men's and women's cross country to our intercollegiate sport sponsorship for the 2011-2012 academic year," Athletic Director Steve Crotz said. "The sport of cross country attracts quality student-athletes who are intrinsically motivated to perform well in the classroom. In addition, we are also hopeful that this offering will bring student-athletes to AUM who might otherwise have attended other institutions."
AUM will compete in the Southern States Athletic Conference, becoming the 12 institution to sponsor cross country on the women's side and the 11 to sponsor the sport on the men's side.
The recruiting efforts of each program is being coordinated by Dr. Michael Gross, an assistant professor in physical education and exercise science at AUM, and the coach of the club team that ran in several events last fall. Gross, who has been a runner since his prep career at Tallassee High School, has competed in 42 marathons and several ultra-marathons, and has also been a certified coach for eight years with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program.
"I am very appreciative of the confidence that Chancellor Veres and Coach Crotz have shown in me," Gross said. "We had a good response from the student body when we sponsored a club team, so I excited about having the opportunity to take that enthusiasm to the next level. I am eager to get the process started."
Along with announcing the program, the athletic department also announced the signing of its first student-athletes for each team. Jeremiah McGough and Katherine Toy each signed letters of intent on Thursday and will be members of the inaugural team this fall.
McGough joins the Senators after participating in cross country at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, while Toy, who is from Sugar Land, Texas, was an all-conference performer on the cross country team at Huntingdon College, before transferring to AUM this past fall.
"I am very pleased with the interest and response to our club teams this past year," Crotz added. "Having club members Katherine Toy and Jeremiah McGough represent our first official signees is very gratifying. Our goal is to recruit ten runners for each program."
For additional information about the AUM cross country programs, contact Gross at (334) 244-3426 or via e-mail at email@example.com.