Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


SMC’s first national cross country trophy, 1973

SMC’s national cross country trophy, 1973

NJCAA Decision Expected in Late October

Published on August 31, 2020 - noon

Southwestern Michigan College’s cross country comeback is coalescing.

SMC officials visited virtually with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) on Aug. 12.

“We will learn whether we have been approved for rejoining in late October,” President Dr. Joe Odenwald said.

The head coach position has been posted (, with applications due Sept. 18.

SMC hopes to name a new coach at a press conference in late October when the Roadrunners officially announce their return. If approved, SMC will begin signing letters of intent with runners on Nov. 1 for fall 2021.

“The NJCAA panel wanted to gauge the commitment level of the Board of Trustees and SMC for cross country,” Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon said. “They wanted to know about our facilities and asked several questions about scholarships. I told them it makes perfect sense financially because we already have these residential halls, trails, the Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center and the Student Activity Center (SAC).

The NJCAA also “wanted some history about SMC athletics,” Jerdon said. “I elaborated on our past and intended future. The SAC is more than capable of filling athletes’ needs with existing machines, free weights and resistance pools. The Tate Center is ideal for athletes with limited time. Since their panel could not visit our campus, we sent them still photos and videos.

“The many miles of on-campus trails demonstrate our ability to succeed again at cross country,” Jerdon said. “I emphasized that we are not beginning from the ground up, we are simply returning to athletics. We have won many state and national titles and have something to build on.”

Chief of Staff Brent Brewer, Executive Director of Campus Life Jeff Hooks, Financial Aid Director Lauren Mow and Registrar Steve Carlson joined Jerdon and Odenwald for the presentation.

“I was most impressed with our team,” Jerdon said. “They had the answers to all of the NJCAA questions. It lasted about two hours, but felt like two minutes. It’s easy to talk about something you hold dear to your heart.”