TCU track and field members said TCU’s legacy is still intact despite problems surrounding the program.Former head track and field coach Monte Stratton and his assistant coaches allegedly violated NCAA rules before Stratton was fired last September. The NCAA is conducting an investigation of TCU, but a decision has not been announced. Last year, the program operated under self-imposed sanctions that banned the runners from post-season competition – both individual and team.
Sophomore sprinter Jay Cooper said he came to TCU because of the track tradition.
“I ran track in high school and heard about TCU at the Texas Relays,” Cooper said. “Then TCU started recruiting me.”
Cooper said that when he was recruited by TCU, he was not told of any NCAA violations or sanctions. The university revealed the violations in September 2004.
Last year, Cooper was not able to run in postseason competition.
“It did not feel good,” Cooper said. “I did not like not being able to compete nationally. We had a good, young team and did not have the chance to showcase our talent.”
Justyn Warner, a freshman sprinter from Markham, Ontario, said he came to TCU because he heard it was a sprint powerhouse.
“I heard from TCU alumnus about how good the program is,” Warner said.
Warner said the NCAA investigation and pending decision did not affect his decision to attend TCU.
“I wanted to come here anyway,” Warner said. “I trust my coaches, and I know nothing like this will happen again.”
Deborah Jones, a member of the women’s track and field team, said she was recruited by the previous coaching staff and liked the program.
“What happened in the past is the past,” Jones said. “It is only a speed bump.”
Jones said an athlete’s mentality is affected by team troubles.
“It can be discouraging for the men’s team,” Jones said. “The fact that they are still here competing tells a lot about them.”
Warner said being deprived of the NCAA last year has made the team train harder.
“When we do get the opportunity to compete there again, we will show that we are still TCU,” Warner said.
Jones said the women’s team has always been in the shadow of the men’s team.
“We are carrying on their legacy,” Jones said. “Since we are doing well, they are doing well too.”
Cooper said TCU’s tradition will be continued this year.
“Opponents will overlook our team troubles when they see TCU is TCU,” Cooper said. “We have a new coaching staff and new recruits. TCU will still be TCU.”