Mailbag questions

I’ll be putting together a mailbag story tomorrow. Please respond with any questions on any of the sports.

Do you feel that with another 6-6, 7-5 season that fan apathy level will be as low as it has been since Danny Ford?

Has Joe Johnson had the best pro career of any Hoop Hog in school history?

Isn’t this the year for Nike to tweak/update the uniform?

After the last two weeks, how likely is it that Arkansas Baseball team will be able to host a regional or super regional?

Will Williams continue to play football?

We know AA is the clear starter but is anyone pushing him? How far away are either of the other two QBs from AA?

Thank you all for your questions. Here is this week’s mailbag: … naming-ri/

Comment on the adding sports question: The easiest sport to add would be men’s soccer. We already have a soccer field, etc. It’s only 9.9 scholarships. Two coaches, maybe three.

There would be Title IX considerations, of course. Not sure what the easiest women’s sport to add would be. Maybe rowing; they could do it on Lake Fayetteville or Beaver. Rowing is 20 scholarships,.

There are two key considerations: Title IX and which sports are sanctioned by the SEC.

Let’s start with Title IX. In order for a university to be in compliance with Title IX, it must be able to pass one of what is known as the three-prong test:

  1. Provide athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the undergraduate enrollment.
  2. Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex.
  3. Fully accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

Most universities pass the Title IX test by the second prong, usually by pointing toward enhancements in facilities, the addition of female sports, etc. That would come into question should another men’s sport be added.

Arkansas can’t pass the first prong because there are more female students than male students on campus, but 20.3 more scholarships allocated to men’s sports. The third prong is a fairly ambiguous test that most don’t attempt to argue.

Then you have the SEC component. The only sports sanctioned by the SEC in which Arkansas does not participate are women’s equestrian and men’s swimming and diving. Arkansas had a men’s swim team until 1990.

There are sports not sanctioned by the SEC that are played by some SEC teams. For instance, South Carolina and Kentucky have men’s soccer teams that are part of Conference USA. Alabama and Tennessee compete in women’s rowing as part of the Big 12. Florida and Vanderbilt play women’s lacrosse as part of the Big East.

All of that to say: if Arkansas added another sport, it probably would be a female sport and would have to be equestrian to participate in the SEC.

As you noted, some SEC schools compete in other leagues in selected sports. For us, the American would be a good fit in men’s soccer; Tulsa, SMU and Memphis are all AAC men’s teams, so there would be regional rivals and somewhat reduced travel. In fact, there would probably be less travel in AAC soccer, even counting UConn and Temple, than there would be if there were an SEC men’s league.

Women’s rowing could compete in the Big 12; eight schools in the Little Dozen have rowing. About all you’d need for facilities would be a boathouse on whatever body of water is used. Equestrian is only 15 scholarships, and is an SEC sport, but I have no clue what would be needed in the way of facilities that do not already exist in the UA horse facility out at Agri Park.

Certainly Title IX would mandate that adding men’s soccer, or resuming swimming (also 9.9 scholies) for that matter, would also require adding a women’s sport, probably one with more scholarships. Either rowing or the horsies would meet that requirement.

A while back when the Powerball jackpot was creeping up toward a billion dollars, one of the top items on my if-I-win fantasy list would be to endow a men’s soccer program at UA and dare Jeff Long to turn my money down. If that also required endowing a corresponding women’s sport or two, so be it. UA’s sports offerings are on the low end of Division I in general and the SEC in particular. Only Vandy, with 15 varsity sports (one of which is women’s bowling, with 5 scholies), has fewer than our 17.

Technically, Arkansas has 19 sports (11 female, 8 male) because indoor and outdoor track and counted as separate sports.

I’ve always thought the next sport to be added at Arkansas is equestrian. The facility is there, I think. In fact, I believe it’s being expanded. There are big donors in Northwest Arkansas who like the sport and have had children in it. I do not know if there is any thoughts to going that direction.

To be honest, with what’s on the plate of the athletic department, I don’t see any sports being added. I would not expect them to add a men’s sport like soccer that offers that many scholarships. That really changes the dynamics on campus in regards to Title IX.