Hendrix eyes the gridiron | Arkansas Blog

Hendrix eyes the gridiron

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Forget ASU v. UA. Hendrix College is talking about taking up football again. (The Warriors of Hendrix are now politically correct, as you can see from the new logo.) I think the Razorbacks need to renew their rivalry with Hendrix if this happens. A safe W, a good crowd and perhaps a shirttail serenade at the tailgate party.

The release from Hendrix is on the jump.

Finally, if they bring my alma mater, Washington and Lee, to Conway for a Division III battle of titans, drinks are on me. Rhodes in Memphis would be the likeliest arch-rival, however.

HENDRIX NEWS RELEASE

CONWAY, ARK. Hendrix College President J. Timothy Cloyd will create a committee to consider the return of intercollegiate football at the college, a sport that has been absent from Hendrix since the 1960 football season.

Hendrix is presently one of three schools in its athletic conference – the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference – to not have a football team. If implemented, Hendrix would join nine other football-playing schools in the conference and become the only NCAA Division III football program in Arkansas.

The committee, consisting of approximately 15 people, will be headed by Chuck Chappell, a professor of English at Hendrix since 1969 and a 1964 graduate of Hendrix College. Composed of alumni, students, faculty and staff, the committee will conduct an extensive study to determine the financial feasibility, along with student and alumni interest in the program. The process is expected to take a year, and the college’s Board of Trustees would ultimately have to approve the implementation. 

 “This will be an inclusive process, and it will be an objective process,” Cloyd said. “Given the development of the facilities and the growth in the SCAC, I think it’s the ideal time to start asking some questions about adding football on the Division III level here at Hendrix.”

Austin College was added to the conference this year, and Colorado College and Birmingham Southern will join the conference for the 2007-08 season. All three have football programs, joining Millsaps, Trinity (Texas), DePauw, Rhodes, Centre and Sewanee as football-playing colleges in the conference. Hendrix, Southwestern (Texas) and Oglethorpe (Georgia) are the only three schools that don’t field a football team.

Division III athletics is different from other NCAA football divisions because athletic scholarships are not allowed. Division III colleges are predominately known for their academic achievements with athletics considered secondary. The athletic scholarships offered by other Arkansas colleges was a major reason Hendrix dropped football in 1960, according to historical accounts.

In the late 1940s, Hendrix officials became frustrated because other schools in Arkansas began to subsidize athletics – football players room, board, tuition and oftentimes spending money in exchange for their participation in athletics – according to the 1984 book “Hendrix Collage: A Centennial History” written by James E. Lester Jr. That development meant that some schools “will have the best football teams that money can buy,” former Hendrix College President Matt Locke Ellis said at that time. Hendrix football teams were then clearly at a disadvantage, with the Warriors faltering in the second half of football games against larger and more skilled opponents.

By the fall of 1955, the Hendrix football team included only 22 players, and over a three-year span the Warriors won only one football game. These factors, combined with the mounting expense of fielding a football team, forced the discontinuance of football at Hendrix in 1956. Football returned briefly in the late 1950s but was discontinued following the 1960 season.

Hendrix is scheduled to open its new 100,000 square-foot Wellness and Athletic Center this summer, a facility that includes a new artificial turf field that will support the college’s field hockey and lacrosse programs. The field could also accommodate a football. Additionally, a new field house being constructed near the facility could be conformed to add football dressing facilities.

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is among 165 colleges featured in the 2008 edition of the Princeton Review America’s Best Value Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.

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