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So how does this whole War Memorial Stadium-University of Arkansas, Fayetteville contract affect the football study that's underway at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock?

Key officials say it won't affect it much.

Why ask? Well, UALR built its $125,000 feasibility study around the possibility of playing home games at Little Rock's 70-year-old stadium, and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism conducted its own feasibility study to figure out what improvements War Memorial Stadium needed to accommodate tenants in the modern era.

The parks and tourism study -- which concluded in March and estimated War Memorial needed $17 million in renovations -- was conducted by the same organization (Conventions, Sports & Leisure International) that is conducting UALR's football study.

Michael Miller, CSL's project manager, said in December that the Razorbacks' future at War Memorial was "something that we certainly have to consider is part of this process" and that "there's certainly some impact to that to considerations that would need to be made if Arkansas was still there."

Miller didn't respond to a phone call and email as of press time. But Kane Webb, director of parks and tourism, said Miller reached out to congratulate him about UA's new six-year deal that will bring Missouri to Little Rock in 2019, 2021, and 2023 but to "not read too much into it."

Webb, who is not directly involved with UALR's CSL study, said any real impact the Hogs have on a potential Trojans football team is just a scheduling conflict: UALR would have to work around the Razorbacks playing at War Memorial on Thanksgiving weekend during those years.

Regarding an update and comment on the football study, UALR Athletic Director Chasse Conque -- who was in Point Clear, Ala., last week attending the Sun Belt Conference's annual spring meetings -- responded through the school's communications department, saying the study was on pace to conclude in late June.

With current knowledge, the Razorbacks contract was made independently.

UALR's decision on whether to start a football team will be made just as indepently, with a much larger deciding factor: Will the school raise enough money in donations to pay for a multimillion dollar athletic enterprise?

Stay tuned 'til June.

'On open alert'

An 18-year-old who guarded missile fields in North Dakota during the Cold War grew up to command the University of Central Arkansas softball program.

David Kuhn, the Bears' 10-year head coach, remembers that he spent exactly four years and one day in the U.S. Air Force -- a tenure that ended on July 15, 1991.

He protected aircraft at the Air Force Base in Blytheville, worked security at a radar site in Iceland and watched over the underground missiles in North Dakota.

Kuhn said he was "always on open alert," "ready to go to war at the drop of a hat."

If the United States had opened fire from the upper midwest, Kuhn would have been one of the first to know.

"I didn't realize at the time how important that job was," said Kuhn, 49. "You don't have the perspective you have when you're almost 50.

"It was crazy [psychologically]. You shape up or ship out. You learn pretty fast you either lead, follow or get out of the way."

The fateful day never came.

"Thank goodness," he said.

Kuhn said the experience taught him "about leadership and discipline," and after his service, he turned his teenage interest in fast-pitch softball into a career.

He played high school baseball in Greenville, Miss., but his coach invited him to join pickup fast-pitch softball games. Kuhn rejoined the games after his service, attended Delta State University, then became the Lady Statesmen's softball coach in 1999.

In 10 seasons, he became Delta State's winningest coach (368-222) and was named UCA's head coach before the 2009 season.

Before Kuhn, the Bears averaged 14 victories per season. During his tenure, they have averaged 29.9 victories per season and made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015, when it lost two games to Oklahoma and Lehigh.

UCA (29-27) made its second postseason appearance in its Division I program history this season, when it went 1-2 in the National Invitational Softball Championship. The Bears were eliminated by Texas Tech on Thursday night.

The Bears will return sophomore first baseman Kaylyn Shepherd, junior second baseman Libby Morris and junior outfielder Morgan Felts, who were all named to the All-Southland third team.

Financial boon

On Tuesday, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will announce an undisclosed, record-breaking, multimillion dollar gift from Simmons Bank for upgrades to its football and baseball facilities.

UAPB, which receives financial assistance as a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, had a smaller athletic budget ($7,770,869) in Fiscal Year 2017 than UALR ($11,893,708), and the Trojans don't have a football team.

Golden Lions Stadium was built in 2000 for $12 million -- which is less than half the cost of Arkansas State University's ongoing north end zone renovation project ($29 million) -- and former five-time All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter donated $500,000 to help his alma mater build its $9 million baseball complex in 2008.

The basketball program earned $530,420 in game guarantees by flying to places such as Oklahoma State and Hawaii during the 2016-2017 season. The football program, which had 31 of 63 maximum scholarships in 2011, raised enough money to boost its scholarship total to 61 last season.

A program that needs money is getting it.

"Oh, it's huge," eight-year UAPB baseball coach Carlos James said. "A gift of a million or more? I'd take one thousand or more."

A full announcement will come at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Golden Lions Stadium. The donation still has to be approved by the UA System board of trustees at its meetings Wednesday and Thursday.

ASU on track

The Arkansas State University track and field team is sending 15 athletes to Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday to compete in a school-record 21 events in the NCAA Regionals.

The NCAA West Preliminary Round runs Thursday through Saturday at California State's Hornet Stadium, and senior sprinter Jaylen Bacon -- a four-time All-Sun Belt Conference member in indoor and outdoor track -- enters the meet tied with Georgia's Kendal Williams for the nation's fastest 100-meter time this season (9.99 seconds).

Last Sunday, the Red Wolves men's team won the Sun Belt Conference championship, which marked the first time it had won both an indoor and outdoor conference title in the same season. The women's team finished second.

Qualifiers will compete in the NCAA Division I championship from June 6-9 in Eugene, Ore.

Sports on 05/20/2018

Print Headline: Does Hogs' presence affect Trojans?

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  • Delta2
    May 21, 2018 at 1:42 p.m.

    Maybe if UALR gets a football team, Little Rock and Central Arkansas in general can finally get over their man crush on that mid-major-at-best up in the NW corner, and Arkansas can finally progress as a state.

    Come to think of it, with WMS being UALR's home stadium, that would make UAF playing there an even bigger joke than it is already.