Thanks to the support of its student body, the University of Central Arkansas did an about-face and reinstituted its men's soccer program a month after it decided to drop the program.
The school's Board of Trustees accepted a Student Government Association recommendation to raise athletic fees by 50 cents per credit hour. This increase is expected to generate an additional
$150,000 to be used to keep the program alive as an independent until a conference agrees to accept the team. Once UCA was accepted in a men's soccer conference -- among the possibilities are the
Missouri Valley and Mid-American -- the student funding will be dropped.
The UCA case underscored the difficulties men's soccer programs face. They must not only have the support of their
school and community but they must have the support of their school's conference. In the UCA situation, men's soccer was successful at the Division II level, but when the school went DI, men's
soccer found itself with no one to play since the Southland Conference, its new conference, has women's soccer but no men's soccer. The Southland is one of nine conferences that sponsor women's
soccer but not men's soccer because there are not the six teams necessary to qualify for an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. DI CONFERENCES
WITHOUT MEN'S SOCCER Ratio of men's to women's soccer programs:
(1/9) Big 12
(5/8) Ohio Valley
(1/9) Sun Belt
*BYU's men's program plays in the PDL.