Image credit: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Youtube

Arkansas-Pine Bluff Athletics Gets Much-Needed Financial Gift From Alumni Couple


Last year we wrote about the athletic department at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (UAPB) to illustrate the financial difficulties many HBCU athletic departments face.

In 2022, UAPB athletics was facing a budget deficit of roughly $3 million. That had the university and athletic department scrambling to come up with creative ways to fund their teams, programs and construction projects.

In the past, support from hometown heroes and alums helped UAPB expand its athletic offerings.

In 2008, Torii Hunter, a 5x MLB All-Star and 9x Gold Glove winner, donated $500,000 to his hometown university to begin construction on the Torii Hunter Baseball and Softball complex.

In 2018, the university announced that Pine Bluff-based Simmons Bank was gifting the university $2.5 million for upgrades to its football and baseball facilities. It was the largest gift in UAPB history and helped fund a new football stadium scoreboard and turf, and the baseball pavilion at the Torii Hunter Baseball and Softball Complex.

Raising money to run programs and upgrade facilities is an annual necessity for all athletics departments, and UAPB is no exception.

Yet securing donations is just one challenge facing the university. Another is the fact that in Arkansas, athletic funding for colleges and universities has to be supported by private donations and cannot come from public sources.

Athletic Director Chris Robinson understands the challenges he and his administration face, and they aren’t shying away from addressing them.

His goal is to not only continue facility expansion but to also become self-sustaining.

“To get to that point where our budget is, our school steps in and gives revenue from the school sent down to supplement the athletic department to help us work in a collaborative fashion,” said Robinson. “What I’m saying is, we want to be self-sustaining to where we become more of a money-producing entity to where we can play big games and be self-sustaining to send money to the other side other than the university sustaining us.”

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

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