BY PAUL BETIT

The Portland Press Herald

ORONO–University of Maine cross country and track and field standout Riley Masters announced Friday he will transfer to another school in January.

Masters, who grew up in Bangor, declined to say where he was going in a statement issued by the University of Maine, but various media reports indicate he is transferring to the University of Oklahoma.

Last February, Masters became UMaine’s first sub-four-minute miler when he clocked 3 minutes, 59 seconds during an indoor meet in Boston.

“I loved running for Coach (Mark) Lech and the University of Maine,” he said. “I know that if I had stayed I could have had continued success under Mark, however, I am looking forward to pursuing new opportunities. Maine will always be home, but it is time for me to explore and experience something new.”

It was unclear Friday whether Masters, who is a junior, will be able to immediately compete for the Sooners.

According to NCAA rules, athletes transferring from one Division I school to another must sit out one academic year unless granted a waiver by the school they are leaving.

“I know we’re doing all we can to help with Riley’s transfer,” said Laura Reed, assistant athletic director for public relations at UMaine.

But neither Lech, track and field coach at the University of Maine, nor UMaine athletic director Steve Abbott were available for comment Friday.

Officials at the University of Oklahoma would neither confirm nor deny Masters’ pending transfer to the university.

“We don’t have any information about mid-year transfers until school resumes in January,” said Cassie Gage, a spokeswoman for OU’s track and field team.

First-semester finals ended at Oklahoma Friday and classes won’t resume until Jan. 17.

During his 21/2 years at Maine, Masters earned All-America honors twice and participated in three NCAA Championships. He holds school records for the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs and the mile run.

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