FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas announced Friday it will expand its policy of playing in-state universities in sports to include Arkansas State University and the University of Central Arkansas.
The website Whole Hog Sports reported Friday the Razorbacks will play UCA in a volleyball tournament in Conway this fall and the Bears' track and field teams will compete at the UA in indoor and outdoor meets in 2021.
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said Friday he has told Arkansas’ head coaches they are free to schedule UCA and ASU in all sports, other than football, according to the website.
Attempts to reach Arkansas State athletics officials Friday for comment were unsuccessful.
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, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
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 not having to fly commercially is the main reason for having more regionalized schedules, according to Whole Hog Sports. Cutting travel expenses also would be a financial benefit, he said.
Yurachek said savings garnered by driving to events instead of flying could be used to pay for charter flights on other trips.