03 Feb 2021 UCA has new home at ASUN Conference
By Steve East, Associate AD/Media Relations, UCA
ATLANTA, Ga. – The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) Bears and Sugar Bears have a new home.
The Central Arkansas athletics program announced in a joint virtual press conference on Jan. 29 that it will become part of the ASUN Conference, along with fellow new members Eastern Kentucky University and Jacksonville State University.
“We are excited about our new conference home,” said Dr. Brad Teague, UCA’s director of athletics. “The member institutions in the ASUN represent great traditions in sport and in academics. They are programs and universities that align with our ideals. We are happy to be playing against programs in new major media markets. We have been recruiting student-athletes and students more and more to our east and this move is in concert with those efforts.
“UCA represents so many great assets that the ASUN values,” ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart said. “The university is growing, it has built an athletic tradition of success since moving to Division I in 2006. The growing campus, the growing curriculum, the growing academic success of the student-athlete population, the growing population of the metropolitan area in which Central Arkansas resides, and the leadership of the university in president Houston Davis and athletics director Brad Teague all impressed the ASUN evaluation team.
“The ASUN becomes athletically stronger for sure, but for our Presidents’ Council, the primary focus is on adding a school that shares our value of Students First and can supply the data to prove the university support for the success of the student-athlete population. And it doesn’t hurt that multiple evaluations have named UCA the most beautiful college campus in Arkansas. I visited for a football game this fall and I came away more impressed than I ever thought I could.”
The Commissioner continued, “This partnership is a win-win. The ASUN is better with UCA, and UCA has a partner that shares the value of innovative and adaptive approaches to future success.”
The Bears and Sugar Bears will begin competing in the ASUN beginning in the fall of 2021. UCA, which competes in 18 sports, will complete a highly successful run in the Southland Conference, which it joined in 2006-07 when the athletics program moved to NCAA Division I.
“This move will open up new and large markets to our east in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida,” said Teague. “These are areas we already recruit for student-athletes and for students. This move will give us a stronger presence in those talent-rich markets.”The new ASUN will consist of UCA, Eastern Kentucky (Richmond, Ky.), Jacksonville State (Jacksonville, Ala.), North Alabama (Florence, Ala.), Kennesaw State (Kennesaw, Ga.), Jacksonville University (Jacksonville, Fla.), North Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.), Florida Gulf Coast (Fort Myers, Fla.), Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.), Liberty (Lynchburg, Va.), Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tenn.) and Bellarmine University (Louisville, Ky.).