CONWAY (KATV) - A committee of faculty members at the University of Central Arkansas is investigating whether or not dropping to Division II status would lead to a better use of school funds.
The faculty senate commissioned the committee's study. They have not received raises in several years. Coaches in the athletic department have received bonuses for winning seasons paid out of private donor funds.
Senate President Dr. Kevin Browne says he's taken their concerns all the way to the top and now, he and others are hoping to help find the funds, calling cost of living adjustments and raises an absolute necessity going forward.
"The administration is eager to help us but they are also looking at the financial health of the university," said Dr. Browne, "so we have to together find a way of solving this problem, find ways of solving this problem."
About six years ago, the university began making the shift to Division I and two years ago, became a fully entitled D1 school. Factoring in the added sponsorships and endorsements, it costs about $1 million a year for the school to hold its D1 status.
Athletic Director Brad Teague says that's money well spent on a program that's producing big results. He worries that he hasn't sold other faculty on the benefits.
Teague said, "The fact that we have folks on our campus who don't feel like athletics provides value, I'm disappointed that I have not done a better to extol the great values of Division I and I hope to do a better job in that regard."
Regardless of the faculty's decision, some students say the mere title of Division I plays a role in school spirit and they'd hate to see the Bears lose it.
"I'd come out and support even if they are D2," said Shon Watson, "but as a fan overall, I think most people would have an impact. It would be an impact on them due to the fact that we'd be D1."
This is one of many ideas the faculty senate is exploring. The faculty committee will report back to the full senate, which will then make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who ultimately will decide this matter. The senate has not given a time table for when they will make that recommendation.