NEW YORK -- One of Craig Masback's chief goals when he became chief executive officer of USA Track & Field in July 1997 was to enhance the sport's image on television.
He did it last year with the introduction of the Golden Spike Tour, a total of nine indoor and outdoor meets.
On Monday, Masback announced a five-meet schedule for the 2000 indoor season -- one more meet than last year.
"Last year's Golden Spike Tour was well received by our athletes and the American television viewing audience," Masback said. "This year's tour will be bigger and better than ever, and ... again provide the opportunity for our athletes to showcase themselves on national television."
USATF president Patricia Rico said, "This year's Tour will offer fans across the country the opportunity to see our wonderful athletes during the season as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Sydney."
Among the athletes who have agreed to participate in the Tour are 100-meter world record-holder Maurice Greene, 1996 Olympic high jump champion Charles Austin, 1996 Olympic 110 hurdles gold medalist Allen Johnson, women's 200 world champion Inger Miller, women's pole vault world record-holder Stacy Dragila, and 1997 men's 200 world champion Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago.
The Tour will begin Jan. 29 with the D.C. Invitational at Fairfax, Va. That will be followed by the Millrose Games Feb. 4 at New York, the Tyson Invitational Feb. 12 at Fayetteville, Ark., the Golden Spike Invitational Feb. 19 at Pocatello, Idaho, and the USA Track & Field Championships March 3-4 at Atlanta.
Each meet will be on network television, some live and some on tape delay. The telecasts will start with the D.C. Invitational Jan. 29 on NBC from 2:30-3:30 p.m. EST. The Millrose Games will be shown Feb. 5 on NBC from 2:30-3:30 p.m. EST, the Tyson Invitational Feb. 12 on ESPN from 4-5 p.m. EST, the Golden Spike Invitational Feb. 20 on ESPN from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and the national championships March 4 on NBC from 2-3 p.m. EST and March 5 on ESPN from midnight-1 a.m. EST.
The athletes will compete for a total of $750,000 in promotional and prize money. The top six finishers in selected events will divide the purse.
The average TV rating for track and field telecasts in 1999 was more than 2.0.
The outdoor Golden Spike Tour has not yet been released.