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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Athletes reap benefit of Quapaw generosity

April 30, 2021 at 2:57 a.m.

A story in today's paper speaks to the ever-improving revenue figures being experienced by Saracen Casino Resort. Obviously, the Quapaw Nation believes in spreading the wealth.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Saracen had pledged $100,000 to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Student-Athlete Academic Center. The center was created to improve academic outcomes for athletes, and this support will allow athletes to have better access to learning and to academic coaches.

Interim Athletics Director Chris Robinson said the donation from Saracen sends the message that academic success is important -- and attainable.

"This gift comes at an exciting time for UAPB Athletics. Our student-athletes are on the rise, and we want to ensure their rise in athletics is parallel to their academics," Robinson said. "The center is a valuable resource that offers computers, meeting spaces and individual tutoring from the staff to ensure our student-athletes can achieve their academic goals and be prepared for successful careers."

The casino's Carlton Saffa said Saracen was eager to be a part of UAPB's success story.

"Our commitment is to be a true partner in this community," Saffa said. "Our desire is to do our part in making sure that we add to the growth of this region. UAPB has a proud tradition of educating students and expanding opportunity, and we intend to be a part of that continued success."

The connection being made between Saracen and UAPB was not lost on the chancellor.

"As we build new partnerships and expand the university's impact throughout this state, the generosity of Saracen Casino Resort allows us to continue offering the quality education for our talented and highly diverse student population," said UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander. "The support by the Quapaw Nation is a welcome confirmation of the impact we are making."

There are, of course, any number of sports programs at UAPB. The one that comes to mind today is, not surprisingly, the football team, which is headed to Jackson, Miss., for the championship game. Several of those players have been honored as standouts. Perhaps some of them will be able to play in the pros. We would not be surprised. But just in case these hard-working athletes need a degree -- and we would suggest they all would profit by having one -- this academic program and the infusion of cash from Saracen to support it will give these young men a better chance of taking one home, with or without a championship trophy.

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