Hendrix pursues football, women’s lacrosse programs
It appears football will be reinstated after a 50-year absence at Hendrix, which also announced plans to sponsor women’s lacrosse.
Reinstatement of football, which school officials told The Associated Press may require two or three years to accomplish, will make Hendrix the only Division III football program in Arkansas, and the school would join nine other Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference members in sponsoring the sport.
Meanwhile, lacrosse would become the school’s 11th women’s sport, and the addition of both programs would boost sport sponsorship to 21 at an institution where about 25 percent of the student body participates in intercollegiate athletics.
The college’s board of trustees said establishment of both sports is contingent on raising start-up funding from external sources, and set no date for the start of competition.
Hendrix President J. Timothy Cloyd said in a news release that adding the sports will enhance academic opportunities at the college, eventually resulting in the addition of faculty and academic programs that have been made possible by recent and continuing growth in enrollment.
Board members adopted a resolution expressing their belief “that the addition of these sports will support the efforts of Hendrix to increase the size, quality and diversity of its student body and to protect recent enrollment gains.”
Cloyd said fundraising for football will not interfere in any way with a current $100 million capital campaign at the school.
“Athletics have always been secondary to athletics here at Hendrix, and that will never change,” he said. “We believe that Division III athletics enhances the whole person academically by providing opportunities to compete athletically against our peer institutions, and adding these sports only increases the opportunity for our students to compete on the playing field. Division III athletics in the SCAC also preserves the value of the liberal arts.”
Hendrix dropped football in 1960, after what James E. Lester Jr., in his centennial history of the college in 1984, described as a period of growing frustration at the school as other institutions in the state began to provide scholarships in the sport.
By 1955, the Hendrix football team included only 22 players, and won only one game over a three-year span. The school discontinued football in 1956, then briefly reinstated it before dropping it for good in 1960.
The decisions come after a study by a committee including alumni, student, faculty and staff representation, and following the opening last year of the school’s new Wellness and Athletics Center.
The center includes an artificial turf field that serves as the home venue for a field hockey program and men’s lacrosse team -- both of which began play last fall. The field also would serve the women’s lacrosse team and also can accommodate football.
School officials said they need to raise funds to construct a field house to serve football and other outdoor sports, among other enhancements.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association