FAYETTEVILLE – Friday’s disclosure that University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek approves Razorbacks coaches except football scheduling competition with the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the University of Central Arkansas Bears doesn’t much affect two Razorbacks sports.
Razorbacks men’s and Razorbacks’ indoor and outdoor women’s track and field teams and men’s and women’s cross country generally have competed against other Arkansas based teams for years and long before the UA’s Fayetteville campus hierarchy freed the Razorbacks athletically to compete against the University of Arkansas Little Rock and University of Arkansas Pine Bluff within the UA system.
“We see them throughout the progression evolving into the national championships,” Arkansas Women’s Coach Lance Harter said.
Sometimes even in Fayetteville they’ll compete with Chile Pepper Cross Country in the fall and the all-comers late season indoor and outdoor last chance qualifying meets trying to qualify or sharpen athletes for the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Athletes from the Razorbacks and other Arkansas schools inevitably compete at other large meets during the indoor and outdoor seasons. All Razorbacks, Red Wolves and Trojans nationally qualified compete at the NCAA’s Cross Country and Indoor Track and Outdoor Track Championship meets.
Harter even foresees during the Indoor and Outdoor seasons sending some of his Razorbacks to meets at UCA in Conway or hosted by the Trojans in Little Rock.
“If we can stay instate and make a short drive to UCA for example or UALR and get another competition with some of our people that would be great,” Harter said.
Yurachek said Friday trying to cut travel costs in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic cancelling sports since March including the 2020 NCAA Men’s and NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournaments, factors into preferring to play teams closer to home.
Travel readjusting has already affected Bucknam’s cross country team for the fall.
“We were supposed to go to Boston,” Bucknam said of the Beantown Invitational Sept, 20: “But we’ve canceled that and won’t be going.”
Pennies get pinched during economic shutdowns. Better for Bucknam, Harter and all Arkansas coaches of non- revenue producing sports to pinch pennies on travel and play schools closer to home than feel the pinch of their programs cut entirely.
Already in announced deference to finances, Akron recently severed men’s cross country. Florida International has axed its men’s indoor track program.
Against each other, Arkansas and UAPB in 2019 played baseball, softball and women’s tennis with the Razorbacks winning all three competitions.
Against Little Rock last fall the Razorbacks won a men’s exhibition basketball game, and Coach Mike Neighbors’ Razorbacks basketball women defeated Coach Joe Foley’s Little Rock women in Little Rock. His Razorbacks and Foley’s Trojans will play again in 2020-21, Neighbors said.
The Razorbacks women’s volleyball team will play UCA’s volleyball team Sept. 11 in Conway.
Arkansas and UAPB are scheduled football to clash in 2021 and 2024.
Razorbacks baseball has played UAPB and Little Rock and were scheduled to play both this 2020 season until canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.
In baseball Little Rock clobbered the 2019 Razorbacks 17-7 in Fayetteville.
The 10-run drubbing seemed to underscorearguments that the Razorbacks had everything to lose playing against Little Rock.
Arkansas Baseball Coach Dave Van Horn, long an advocate of Arkansas playing other Arkansas-based schools, shrugged it off and succeeded. His Razorbacks ultimately reached the College World Series for the second consecutive year.
That Arkansas baseball loss and subsequent redemption supports Yurachek assessment that “We competed against (the Trojans and UAPB’s Golden Lions) and the world didn’t come to an end.”