Razorback coaches given OK to schedule Arkansas State, UCA

Football not included in new guideline

Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek is shown during a news conference Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

— The University of Arkansas is expanding its policy of playing in-state universities in sports to include Arkansas State University and the University of Central Arkansas.

The Razorbacks will play UCA in a volleyball tournament in Conway this fall, Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said Friday, and the Bears' track and field teams will compete at the UA in indoor and outdoor meets in 2021.

Yurachek said he has told Arkansas’ head coaches they are free to schedule UCA and ASU in all sports, other than football.

Arkansas ended a long-standing policy of not scheduling in-state schools when the Razorbacks played the University of Little Rock and University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff — sister institutions in the UA system — in some sports in 2019.

Yurachek said his decision to allow the Razorbacks’ coaches to schedule ASU and UCA was made in consultation with Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz.

“This is not at all about football scheduling,” Yurachek said. “This is about some regional scheduling opportunities to eliminate commercial [airline] travel.

“We’re scheduled out in football for the next five or six years. So there’s no discussions going on with either [ASU or UCA] about football scheduling at this point.”

Yurachek said playing ASU and UCA fits Arkansas’ desire to have more regionalized schedules in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we look at trying to eliminate the majority, if not all, of our commercial flights for our team travel in the fall, I think there are some other schools around the state that are trying to do some things of that nature,” Yurachek said. “So this just provides two more [scheduling] opportunities for our coaches.”

Yurachek said not having to fly commercially is the main reason for having more regionalized schedules, but he added that cutting travel expenses also would be a financial benefit.

“We’ve asked our coaches just to try to do their best to schedule competitions where a commercial flight is not necessary,” he said. “Whether that’s changing the schedule or changing the way they travel.”

Yurachek said savings generated by driving to competitions instead of flying commercially could be used to pay for charter flights on other trips.