OT: UCA Hoops

Does anybody know what’s going on at UCA?

Basketball Coach Russ Pennell took a leave of absence 3 weeks ago (no explanation). Now, he says he won’t return. Pennell plans to “explore new challenges” according to an ArkansasOnLine article.

NET ranking of #333 in the nation…not good.

Sad thing is, they’re not even the worst team in Arkansas in D-I. UAPB is #341. But UAPB has hope; it won a conference game Saturday against Mississippi Valley, which is THE worst team in D-I.

But yeah if your team is in the bottom 20 and you’re 3-11, it might be time to explore new challenges, presumably those that don’t require recruiting and coaching.

UCA has been one of the worst basketball teams in the country since Corliss was the coach.they had a decent program when Don Nixon(?)was the coach but the last 10-12 years or so bottomed out.the women’s team seems to be in a slight slump the last couple of years but they have been in the NCAA Tournment at least 2-3 times in the last 5 years.

I have not followed UCA, but they took UCLA to OT at UCLA just two years ago? They should have won in regulation but for a phantom call. Also they had Marquette star Markus Howard’s older brother Jordan, who graduated last year. He was a prolific scorer for UCA. I watched them wallop UALR at UALR.

Why is UCA D1 in basketball? I just don’t see them being able to compete in D1 on a regular basis.

More or less, the players went to the AD and said they wouldn’t play for him anymore. There’s a lot more to it but I don’t want to butcher the details and say something that isn’t true. It’s not a good situation.

Because they’re in a D1 conference. Which is true for about 225 of the 353 schools in D1. Their wildest dream is to win their conference tournament and pull a first-round upset as a 14 seed.

I know there in a D1 conference. The question is why??? They should be D2 in my opinion.

A lot of schools play up in classification in basketball because it only requires a limited number of players and is relatively inexpensive to operate. UCA, like most Big East schools. plays FCS (1-AA) in football and plays D1 in basketball. FCS is actually D1 - just the lower division of it. Also, there is no lower division in D1 basketball like there is in football, so the grouping of teams in the sole category will be relatively larger the combined category in football. UAPB is classified just like UCA, UAPB is a very small school enrollment-wise to be playing D1 in anything. Its historic association with the SWAC gets it bumped up.

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This was the answer I was looking for…thanks Rocket.

I just think UCA will never compete in D1 Basketball. That doesn’t mean you quit at it but when I went to school there we were NAIA and dominated. Of course it helped just a little that we had Scottie Pippen.

scientificrocket and I were both saying the same thing, he just added more detail. One more detail: If you pretend to be D1, you get a lot more of that March Madness money. The NCAA says 96% of its revenue from D1 championships goes back out to D1 schools. They distribute it using a system of units: How many teams playing how many games. The ACC, with multiple teams in the Dance, many of which win one or more games, gets more units. The Southland and SWAC, with one team losing in the first round, will only get one unit each, but that’s still a few thousand going to UCA and UAPB. Henderson and Ouachita aren’t getting any of that money.

And if, for example, Stephen F Austin got hot and made the Sweet 16, UCA would benefit from that run due to the additional units going to the Southland.

This is why I don’t understand these small schools firing coach’s over wins and losses. Not really talking about UCA but lots of those schools “pretend to be D1” just to get the cash. But then get all up in arms when they don’t win. I know a guy that was an assistant coach at UCA a few years ago. His pay would shock you. He worked part time at another job just to try and make it.

Since 2010 UCA has had 1 winning season and was a 18-17 record in 2016-17.


Richard, can you share more details?

I think these coaches are getting fired for not winning in their whatever little conference they are in. For example UCA wants to be competitive in the Southland conference.

Evidently the players didn’t want to play for Pennell and told the AD. Sounds like his coaching style wasn’t what they liked.

I know others answered, but just my .02 worth: They belong in D2. I thought it was stupid to go to FCS when they did. I realize they have had some success in FCS, but they actually won it all back in the 80’s (don’t remember if they were NAIA back then or D2, basically the same.)

Would they be able to recruit the same if D2 as they do now? I don’t know. I do know if they could, they we be a huge power in D2. When the old AIC broke up (it took a few years) but UCA went up a level and Hendrix went down a level (D3). I disagreed with both moves (I am a Hendrix grad).

UCA won a share of the NAIA title twice under Harold Horton (both championship games ended in a tie with no provision for overtime) in 1984-85. UCA then won a solo championship in 1991 under Mike Isom. UCA, Tech and Henderson all lost in the championship game in the 1970s.

It’s not correct to correlate D-II with the old NAIA. D-II is much better. And the present NAIA, which is largely small private schools, is even weaker. To give you an idea, ASU won the D-II title in 1970 when it was called the NCAA College Division. Other D-II champions have included Louisiana Tech, Central Michigan, Troy, North Dakota State and Texas State, all of which have moved up to FBS or FCS.

To get back to the debate, are there too many teams in D-I? Yup. But all a school has to do to move up and stay there is meet the requirements, including number of sports (at least 14, with 7-7 for the genders or 6-8, and two team sports for each sex) and scheduling, and the scheduling part is much easier if they find a conference to join. And once they’re in that conference, they are eligible to share in the March Madness revenue for that league. There are no independent schools in D-I basketball since New Jersey Institute of Technology joined the Atlantic Sun in 2015.

Is the NCAA going to weed any schools out of D-I? Nope. Remember the NCAA is what the member schools say it is. And there are 32 conferences in D-I hoops; 23 of those would fall into the mid-major category. The members of those 23 leagues are not going to vote to kick themselves out.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m counting the Power Five football leagues, plus Big East, American, Atlantic 10 and Mountain West as high major leagues. Gonzaga is clearly a high-major program in a mid-major league. All nine of those leagues, plus Gonzaga, are in the current AP Top 25).

What would happen if UCA dropped to D-II? They’d probably join the Great American Conference with the rest of the old AIC teams, unless they went to the Missouri-Kansas league which is frankly better than the GAC. But they’d also have to cut total football scholarships from 63 to 36, which takes a huge hunk out of their ability to recruit. There is no reason to think that UCA’s recruiting would not be decimated with fewer scholarships and lower level competition. D-II basketball has a 10 scholarship limit; again fewer scholarships and lacking the lure of possibly playing in the Dance against a Duke or Ohio State.