In-state rivalry necessary for program growth

By Daniel McFadin
On April 29, 2013

How difficult is it to get the two biggest universities in a state to play against each other in an athletic event? If you’re Arkansas State University or the University of Arkansas, it seems pretty difficult.Since 1946, the largest state funded educational institution in the state has honored its policy that it would not compete against any in-state schools.The most recent attempt at making the prospect of an official NCAA event between the two biggest universities in Arkansas a reality was a familiar, yet different approach to the issue.Andy Mayberry, a Republican representative of District 27, submitted House Bill 2274 that would have required the two schools to play a one-time benefit football game with at least $250,000 going to Arkansas Children’s HospitalThe bill died in the House Rules Committee on March 27 when committee members expressing the belief the legislature shouldn’t be involved in football scheduling voted it down and that the bill might violate amendment 33 of the state Constitution“There were several people in there who actually thought a game between the two universities would be something they’d want to see themselves and recognized the fact that a lot of people in Arkansas want to see that game as well,” Mayberry said. “(I) kept picking up on a recurring theme among many of them that they just didn’t think that needed to be something the legislature should address.”Mayberry said he briefly visited with Chancellor David Gearhart and Athletic Director Jeff Long about the matter. He said the two men gave every indication the school had no plans for such a game to happen.“Hopefully, one of these days the University of Arkansas will see that there is a tremendous amount of interest in that game,” Mayberry said. “Maybe some minds will be changed.”On the other side of the state, Terry Mohajir, ASU’s athletic director, said he would like to see the game take place, but would rather the legislature did not force a game to take place.“I would love to work with Jeff Long to schedule any athletic competition between the schools, that’s my stance,” Mohajir said. “I think it’s good for the state, I think it’s good for the programs, I think it’s good for the budgets. I think it’s good for everything.” 

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