UA Little Rock today released the results of an extensive feasibility study into the possibility of starting a football program (and a marching band) in the coming years.
Here’s the full 179-page analysis, which the university commissioned in partnership with the city and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
A spokesperson for the university said in a press release that the next step is to form a committee to “interpret the results and determine the best course of action moving forward over the next several months.” But the report’s executive summary makes it clear that starting a football program would be a heavy lift. The consultants took a close look at UA Little Rock’s “preparedness for football” and determined that the athletics department would need to be over twice as large as it is today:
The University’s preparedness for Football was a significant element of the Study. UA Little Rock makes a concerted effort to provide an array of student services but is challenged at times to meet the needs of its approximately 11,000 students, including student-athletes, due to resource constraints. The addition of Football, plus approximately 30 new female student-athletes to maintain Title IX compliance, would essentially double the number of UA Little Rock student-athletes, requiring proportionate growth in University and Athletics student support services. University Administration has acknowledged that student services, such as Dining Services, the Student Center, and academic services are not currently equipped to accommodate a substantial infusion of new students.
The consultants estimated UA Little Rock would spend $23.4 million annually on athletics if it geared up an FBS football program. It currently spends about $11 million.
The report also takes a close look at public opinion. Students and alumni like the idea of UA Little Rock football; faculty and staff aren’t so positive. And crucially, a slight majority of university donors don’t like the idea, with almost four in 10 saying they felt “very negative” about bringing football to the university.