By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
Beginning with the 2003-04 school year, the athletic department will add junior varsity programs in four sports: football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball.
Director of athletics Shanon Hays made the official announcement to add the JV programs on Dec. 20, though he said the idea for the $80,000 project had been in works since the beginning of last semester.
“Dr. Money was looking for new ways to bring new students to ACU,” Hays said. “We had this idea before, and I discussed it with [athletics director emeritus] Wally Bullington and [assistant athletics director] Jared Mosley, and we made the collective decision.”
Hays said the varsity coaches would be in charge of selecting the JV coaches.
“It’s important to have guys running these programs who know what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
Head varsity football coach Gary Gaines hasn’t yet named a coach for the JV football team, and the men’s and women’s JV basketball teams will be coached by graduate assistants to be named later. Varsity baseball coach Britt Bonneau named former player Brandon Stover the head JV coach, though he stays in his assistant coaching position on varsity.
“This should help the programs out quite a bit,” said Stover, who just completed a record-setting senior season. “It’ll help build kids for the future.”
Hays said that most of the players for the JV teams would be recruited, though scholarship money will not go toward potential JV players.
“The emphasis will be recruits,” Hays said. “There’s a lot of high school seniors who want a chance to further their career athletically. This allows coaches room to bring in more student-athletes who might’ve gone to another school that offers a JV program.”
Next year will mark the first time ACU has had JV programs since 1996, when the teams fizzled out because of NCAA technicalities that hindered recruiting abilities.
“We were only allowed one phone call per recruit,” women’s basketball coach Wayne Williams said. “Our hands were pretty much tied, but now we’ll be able to recruit better.”
“Other schools have had great responses to their JV programs,” Hays said. “Whenever you have something with the potential to bring in 100 students, it’s certainly a success.”
Hays said schedules for the JV teams, which will include fewer games and more local opponents, should be released late this spring.