Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes, along with Decatur City Council President Jacob Ladner, Decatur Morgan County Tourism President/CEO Danielle Gibson and Director of Sports Development Don Dukemineer, announced that Decatur will host the conference cross country championship for the next three years (2023-2025) at Oakville Indian Mound Park. DMCT hosted the 2022 GCAC Cross Country Championship at Oakville, and the event drew the attention of the community.
“We’re always looking for new and exciting adventures,” said Dukemineer. “So, we did last year and then afterwards and kinda said we might like to do this for a couple years. So, we put together a three-year bid and now we’re announcing we’re hosting through 2025.”
The three-year deal brings excitement to the area while allowing GCAC members to experience the community and learn more about Decatur.
“That's what we really focused on with this bid, is having them to experience the community, not just coming in here and running and then leaving,” said Dukemineer.
Under Baker Barnes’ leadership, the GCAC transformed its process for securing championship locations. Don Staley, CEO of Southeastern Network of Athletic Professionals Sports Tourism (SNAP), joined the GCAC as a consultant and created a bidding process for all championships. With one year under its belt hosting the GCAC at Oakville Indian Mound Park, DMCT knew they wanted to continue the partnership.
“We could not be more happy to be back here in this community where our institutions, where our student-athletes were welcomed,” said Baker Barnes. “Our opportunity to work with student-athletes in this community and inspire young people I think is the other thing that makes this partnership really special.”
The area is well-known for its cross country events, making it a prime location for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) only HBCU conference to host its championships.
Dates for the next three races were also announced during the press conference:
October 20, 2023
October 18, 2024
October 17, 2025
“This three-year commitment by Danielle Gibson, Don Dukemineer and the Visit Decatur team, is another example of a community that believes in the mission of HBCUs,” said Staley.