Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK) has been officially accepted into the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). This fall SEARK will launch its NJCAA Athletic program, beginning with men’s baseball, women’s softball and Esports.
Image Credit: www.seark.edu
Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK) has been officially accepted into the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). This fall SEARK will launch its NJCAA Athletic program, beginning with men’s baseball, women’s softball, and Esports, which will include many virtually organized competitive sports. Men’s and women’s basketball and cheerleading are slated to begin in the fall of 2024.
SEARK President Dr. Steven Bloomberg is excited to incorporate athletics into SEARK’s educational package as it will provide Pine Bluff’s students with another pathway to success. Bloomberg not only aims to bring people to the campus but to showcase the city by utilizing local athletic talent. Once the athletic program is fully implemented, Bloomberg projects that SEARK will see an influx of at least 200 new, full-time students. The SEARK Sharks will also provide another local team to root for, causing an increase in the patronage of Pine Bluff businesses as family members and friends pour into town to support Seark’s athletes.
To help make this vision a success, Seark has hired former Arkansas Tech men’s basketball coach Chad Kline to be the head men’s basketball coach and athletic director for the SEARK Sharks. Kline is determined to build a solid athletic program that develops successful, well-rounded student-athletes. He aims to create a program that can compete at the regional and national levels of the NJCAA. In an interview with KARK, Kline stated, “We expect to win, and we expect to win at a high level.” His extensive experience as a college basketball player and coach, as well as athletic director and NCAA Compliance Officer in Tennessee, are sure to assist him greatly in this endeavor.
SEARK has also hired Pine Bluff native Ka’Lisa Stanfield as the new Dean of Students. Stanfield brings a wealth of experience from her recent position as interim athletic director at Alabama A&M. In her new role at SEARK, she will advise athletes, and assist with athletic-related compliance, student discipline, and student activities, including intramural sports.
To ensure the success of Pine Bluff’s student athletics, SEARK plans to also partner with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). According to Kline, “If the kid isn’t academically eligible to go to UAPB. He can graduate from here (SEARK) and then go right across town 10 minutes away.” According to Bloomberg, the addition of the athletics program will allow SEARK to expand its academic catalog to include physical therapy and personal training.
Bloomberg also stated, “To build a sustainable and competitive athletic program, you can’t just rely on institutional dollars.” SEARK has already received a $250,000 gift from Relyance Bank for the college’s capital campaign to raise $3 million to grow the athletic department. Within the next 24 to 36 months, Bloomberg hopes to announce the addition of more NJCAA sports to SEARK’s catalog.
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Written by: Ninfa O. Barnard