The Mideastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) & Norfolk State University has issued a response after track star Kai Cole revealed that he was unable to compete in the Olympic Trials. In May Cole, a Norfolk State track athlete, clinched his place at the Olympic Trials with an impressive showing at the MEAC Outdoor Championship.

He achieved a remarkable time of 10.05 seconds in the 100-meter event, surpassing the Olympic trial automatic qualifying time and claiming a prestigious top 10 spot on the national stage. Also, his outstanding performance continued as he triumphed in the 200-meter event, clocking in at an impressive time of 20.55 seconds. This achievement not only secured victory but also exceeded the minimum qualifying standard of 20.60 seconds set for the Olympic trials.

USATF, however, deemed that the event was unsanctioned. Because of this, his qualifying time was rejected.  The HBCU track star posted a lengthy letter to his social media announcing the heartbreaking news.

Hey everyone,

I wanted to let you all know that I won’t be attending the Olympic Trials this weekend. As many of you know, I was supposed to be competing, but due to MEAC’s failure to sanction our conference track meet, my qualifying time of 10.05 was rejected by USATF. Despite my best efforts to appeal the decision, it was still denied, and unfortunately, my university didn’t fully support me in effort to get the ruling overturned. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often, so for this to be stripped away from me is truly heartbreaking.

Out of the 5 years of putting my all into Norfolk State Track and Field, it is unfortunate that this is the way my journey has to end. Being a multi-time champion in the MEAC conference and a 3x school record holder it’s upsetting that this was out of my control.

Thank you, Coach Dwayne, Coach Ashanti, and most of all, Coach Price, for your all-out effort to fight for me. Your support means the world to me.

On Friday afternoon, the MEAC issued a statement about the incident.

“The MEAC was recently informed that our multiple appeals submitted last week to have Kai Cole approved to compete at this year’s USATF Olympic Trials were denied by USATF, despite his posting an automatic qualifying time at the MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championship. Although the MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship remains an official NCAA Division-I championship event, USATF policy changes implemented this year resulted in the event not being officially sanctioned by USATF, making all competition results ineligible for Olympic Trial qualification.

We understand Kai’s frustration and took all available steps to rectify the situation so he could compete in the Olympic Trials – an opportunity he clearly deserves. The MEAC fully supports our member institutions and student-athletes as they pursue their dreams and strive for excellence. We are disappointed by the decision from USATF and are working to ensure our track and field championships are sanctioned USATF events moving forward.

No further comments will be made regarding this matter.”

HBCU Gameday obtained a statement from Norfolk State University about the incident, showing support for Cole.

“It is with great disappointment that Norfolk State Athletics confirms the disqualification of Kai Cole’s 100-meter time, rendering him ineligible to compete at the 2024 US Olympic Trials. This news comes as a profound blow to our athletics department, as Kai is one of our most outstanding student-athletes.

Kai had earned the well-deserved opportunity to represent his country on the international stage, showcasing his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication. It is truly disheartening that he will not be able to pursue his dream of competing on one of the world’s biggest platforms this year.

We want to emphasize that Kai’s journey leading up to this moment has been marked by tireless effort and an indomitable spirit. His accomplishments While this setback is undoubtedly challenging, we have full confidence that Kai will demonstrate the same resilience and determination that has defined his career thus far.

Kai has become one of the most decorated athletes in our program’s history during his time at Norfolk State, leading our teams to six total MEAC championships. He’s racked up nine individual conference titles, set multiple school records, and most importantly, earns consistent accolades on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

As a department, Norfolk State Athletics stands firmly behind Kai during this difficult time. We will continue to provide unwavering support as he navigates these challenges and works towards his goals. Together, we will overcome this setback and emerge stronger than ever.

We extend our gratitude to Kai for his unwavering commitment and the pride he has brought to our institution. We also want to express our appreciation to the entire Norfolk State community for their ongoing support of our student-athletes. Your encouragement means the world to us and plays a significant role in shaping their journeys.

Norfolk State University and Norfolk State Athletics stands firmly behind Kai and we will continue to provide our unwavering support as he navigates these challenges.”

USA Track & Field (USATF) serves as the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running, and race walking in the United States. To be eligible for the Olympic Trials, per FloTrack, Athletes must qualify for the Trials by achieving performances at USATF-sanctioned indoor and outdoor events within the qualification period.