LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas at Little Rock said Wednesday it will conduct a feasibility study on adding a football and marching band program.
Earlier this year, about 1,000 UALR students signed a petition in support of a football program, the university said in a news release.
When it was a junior college, the school had a football team that enjoyed many winning seasons, including a 1949 national championship. The Little Rock Junior College Trojans also played in the Little Sugar Bowl in 1948 and won the Mississippi Valley Conference championship in 1954.
The team disbanded after the 1955 season.
Last September, Chasse Conque joined UALR as athletic director, boosting interest in a UALR football program, Chancellor Andrew Rogerson said in the release.
“Since that time, I’ve heard from many other students, alumni, community members, and business leaders who have expressed their interest in a Division I football program in greater Little Rock,” Rogerson said. “As a scientist, I have a high regard for data, so conducting an objective study seems like the right approach to determine if a football program and marching band would be a wise and meaningful addition to the university and our community.”
The study will be a joint project of UALR, the city of Little Rock and the state Department of Parks and Tourism, with each providing a third of the cost. The university will use private funds from its athletic department for its share of the expense.
“The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a vital and critical educational component of our city, and I believe bringing football back would be yet another opportunity for our citizens, students and alumni to rally behind our university,” Little Rock Mayor Stodola said in the release.
“The availability of War Memorial Stadium is a natural asset. However, we want to make sure that the economic and community potential that many of us perceive with a football and marching band program actually plays out on paper,” he said.
State Parks and Tourism Director Kane Webb said in the release, “If the university determines through this feasibility study that a football program is a worthwhile pursuit, then War Memorial Stadium is a natural, ideal home for the Trojans. The timing of this is good, too, as the stadium is currently undergoing an outside study of its own to help us best plan for the future. We will let the data drive the decision, but the potential of UA Little Rock football is certainly worth taking a hard look at.”
The study is expected to take six to seven months from start to finish. UALR said that after the study is completed, its athletic department will reach out to the faculty, staff, students, alumni, board members, athletic department supporters and city and state leaders for input.
Little Rock Trojans have been in Division I athletics since the late 1970s and in the Sun Belt Conference since 1992. UALR and the University of Texas at Arlington are the only full member universities in the Sun Belt Conference that do not currently field football teams.