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After many years of organized competition at the local level, coaches and administrators from 13 two-year colleges in California meet at the West Coast Relays in Fresno to discuss national organization and participation in the NCAA Track & Field Championship. Led by Oliver E. Byrd of San Mateo Junior College, the group organizes a committee that sends a letter of petition to NCAA President W.B. Owens requesting permission to enter the NCAA Track & Field Championship.
Photo: Several California two-year colleges like Compton College (Calif.) fielded athletic teams in track and field and other sports as early as the 1920’s. Photo courtesy of El Camino College Compton.
The NCAA rejects the California committee’s petition for entry into the NCAA Track & Field Championship, citing that their organization was reserved for four-year institutions. Meeting again at the West Coast Relays track and field event in 1938, coaches and administrators from 13 California two-year colleges assemble and approve the adoption of a constitution drafted by Oliver E. Byrd on May 14, 1938. Byrd, by then a faculty member at Stanford University, was elected president. Harry Campbell of Los Angeles City College and Hilmer G. Lodge of San Mateo Junior College were elected to serve as Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer.
The founding member colleges (all from California) of the NJCAA included: Bakersfield College, Chaffey College, Compton College, Fullerton Junior College, Glendale Junior College, Los Angeles City College, Pasadena Junior College, Riverside Junior College, Sacramento Junior College, San Bernardino Valley College, San Mateo Junior College, Santa Monica City College and Visalia Junior College.
Photo: Oliver E. Byrd was the head track coach at San Mateo Junior College (Calif.) from 1932-37 where he coached many great athletes including Archie Williams who won gold in the 400m at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Byrd later became an instructor at Stanford University later established the school's Health Education Department.
The first national championship event in NJCAA history takes place with the holding of a National Track & Field Championship Meet at Sacramento Junior College (Calif.) in May of 1939. Compton College (Calif.) won the team championship, becoming the first-ever NJCAA Champion.
At this event the group adopts the official name “National Junior College Athletic Association” as well as eligibility standards for national championship participants.
Oliver E. Byrd is elected to serve a second term as NJCAA President, but later informs officials that due to the pressures of his many duties at Stanford University he would be unable to serve the NJCAA in the capacity as President. L.D. Weldon of Sacramento Junior College was then elected as the NJCAA’s second president. At the time Weldon was well known in the sport of track and field having won the 1929 AAU title in the decathlon. He would later gain much noriety for being the coach of Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner. As the track and field coach at Sacramento Junior College, he led the program to NJCAA titles in 1941 and '42.
Photo: 1939-40 track and field squad from Compton College (Calif.).Photo courtesy of El Camino College Compton.