Elite track and field athletes in the United States have multiple avenues through which to obtain funding and other types of support.
The information below covers the funding and support available to elite track and field athletes on an annual basis:
- USATF High Performance Plan (Tier System) – Money, Medical and Meets
- Funding for “Development Athletes”
- USATF Foundation Grants
- Women’s Sports Foundation Grants
- For the latest announcements about upcoming funding opportunities, CLICK HERE.
High Performance Plan
USATF implements a “High Performance Plan” (HPP) on an annual basis that lays out how funds given to the organization by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) will be used to ensure as many Olympic and World Championship medals as possible for Team USA.
Athletes qualify for the programs in the HPP through the “Tier System,” which is a way to use objective criteria to determine which athletes should get different levels of support. There are 4 Tiers plus the Talent Protection Program (TPP), which is a program specifically for emerging elites.
Each year in January, once the national and international rankings have been released, the USATF national office will work to determine which athletes meet the criteria below for the upcoming season and notify them of the benefits they’re eligible to receive.
- Medaled1 in either of the two most recent World Champs/Olympics; or
- Have achieved a top-10 world rank in the year-end rankings by Track & Field News or All-Athletics.com; or
- Have achieved a top-5 world rank in in the past 2 years by Track & Field News or All-Athletics.com; or
1The above medal winning criteria will also apply to athletes who competed in the first round and/or final on a medal-winning relay team at either/both 2015 World (Outdoor) Track & Field Championships and 2016 Olympic Games.
- Placed among the top 8 place finishers in either of the two most recent World Champs/Olympics; or
- Have achieved a top 20 world rank in the year-end rankings by All-Athletics.com; or
- Have achieved a top 10 world rank in the past 2 years by Track & Field News or All-Athletics.com.
Tier 3 (also known as Immediate Post Collegians):
- Be an Immediate Post Collegian (IPC) in the first year out of college (completed or forfeited collegiate eligibility during the most recent season) and have achieved the most recent World/Olympics qualifying standard in their respective event.
- Be ranked among the Top 2 U.S. by Track & Field News in its year-end rankings; or
- Achieved a Top 2 place finish at the previous year’s USATF Championships (Marathon, 50k RW, Track & Field)
- For both of the above, the athlete must have also most recent World/Olympics qualifying standard in the event in which he/she place in the Top 2.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT IN EACH TIER:
$2,000 Medical Stipend
$2,000 Coaching Stipend
$1,500 Medical Stipend
$1,500 Coaching Stipend
$1,000 Medical Stipend
$1,000 Coaching Stipend
$500 Medical Stipend
$0 Coaching Stipend
INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVE OPPORTUNITIES STIPEND:
This stipend helps athletes defray the costs of competing and/or training overseas. The 2017 amounts are below. These amounts are typically $1,000-$2,000, and the application process begins in May. If you have questions or want to apply, please email Sariyu.Suggs@usatf.org or Phil.Bastron@usatf.org.
DOMESTIC COMPETITIVE OPPORTUNITIES:
There are 3-4 meets in the U.S. each year that the High Performance Program funds. This means that athletes who qualify for this program can have their travel, lodging and per diem paid for. The goal of these meets is to provide quality opportunities for U.S. athletes to achieve the Olympic or World standard for that season.
Tier athletes will be invited to these events by the USATF national office (Phil Bastron). Athletes who do not quite meet the Tier criteria may be able to still qualify. Please see the section at the bottom of this page entitled “Development Athletes.”
USOC Elite Athlete Health Insurance is offered to ALL athletes in Tiers 1, 2, and 3, Talent Protection Program, and the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center resident program. This is health insurance for a full year, with the premium paid by the USOC1. It covers general medical care, plus (NEW) “chronic” injuries. You can see your local, in-network physician for 10% co-pay, no deductible, $1500 out of pocket maximum (individual).
EAHI starts/renews on January 1st each year. More information can be found on the USOC website.
1 Note: While the premium is paid in full by the USOC, the USOC is obligated to file IRS Form 1099-misc to report premiums paid on behalf of athletes on an annual basis, and the monthly taxable amount is considered added income. This means you will have to pay taxes on the premium amount, which is > $5,000.
USATF Sport Accident Insurance covers”acute” injuries that occur at meets and practices. Coverage of up to $10,000, with a $200 deductible and a 20% co-pay on the first $5000 of medical expenses. Athlete must file a claim form within 30 days of injury.
MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT:
As noted above, athletes in the Tier System are able to be reimbursed for medical expenses, chiropractic care, massage, etc., up to a certain amount. Tiers 1, 2, and 3 can also opt in (one time) for a NormaTec for $1000 of the medical savings dollars ($2400 value).
You can email your receipts to Tyler.Noble@usatf.org.
NEW in 2017: You can now submit receipts through the Teamworks app
MEDICAL CARE OPTIONS:
USOC National Medical Network (NMN)
Athletes who qualify for USOC Elite Athlete Health Insurance also have access to the USOC National Medical Network:
- Treatment at a USOC NMN facility (Colorado Springs, Chula Vista, Lake Placid, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh).
- Airfare, ground transportation, housing, and all medical costs are covered by USOC / USATF
- Can be used for cost free care fore acute or chronic injuries
You can access medical resources through the Teamworks App
- EAHI program booklet, USATF sport accident claim form
- New – request USOC / St Vincent visit through Teamworks
- New – TPP and Tier 1, 2, 3 athletes can opt in for quarterly blood work
St Vincent partnership – “No barriers” program
- Treatment at St Vincent’s Indianapolis facility
- Airfare, ground transportation, housing (for us to 72 hours), and all medical costs covered by USATF
- Can be used for cost free care fore acute or chronic injuries
USOC Short Term Medical Program
- Rehab / daily care at CSOTC or CVOTC
- No travel or housing costs if Tier 1 – 3 or TPP
- Examples of medical options you have in different scenarios
- Sports Medicine Resources
- USATF High Performance Plan Resources
USATF recognizes that there may be elite and emerging elite athletes who do not meet the above criteria and, therefore, will be excluded from receiving the related program benefits. There are also athletes who have achieved these standards in the past, but have experienced a recent injury, illness or maternity leave, which may have caused an interruption in their competitive schedule. To provide funding for these additional athletes, USATF, through its budget, supports an annual “developmental funding” program to assist identified, elite and emerging elite athletes who will not be Tier qualified in 2017.
Many of these “developmental” athletes will be included in a number of High Performance Programs that are available to Tier athletes, such as domestic and international competitive opportunities, High Performance Summits and Sports Performance Workshops. The provision of these benefits and programs supported through USATF’s budget will be limited to the number of positions available for that program.
USATF Foundation Grants:
USATF Foundation is funded and led by passionate fans of the sport. We believe in the pursuit of lofty goals and in the value of first class athlete role models. Our elite athlete grant program has delivered $3 million in grants of $1500 to $25,000 to 253 athletes since 2006. We evaluate candidates on their character, financial need, performance and performance potential in as objective a manner as we can.
New and renewal applications are accepted all year round, but our target timing is October through December to receive applications, with most grant awards announced in February of each year.
Women’s Sports Foundation Travel & Training Grants:
The goal of the WSF Travel & Training Fund is to provide financial support to female athletes with potential to be elite who have demonstrated financial need and would not otherwise be able to afford basic necessities like coaching, travel and equipment to achieve even higher performance levels and rankings without our help. Individual amounts vary between $2,500 and $10,000. Applications are due annually in March. Please visit their website for current information.
NOTE: You must get an official letter of recommendation from the national office, on USATF letterhead, as a part of your application. The national office is happy to write this letter on your behalf. But do not wait until the last minute to apply! They will need time to complete this letter for you.