Men and women’s intercollegiate basketball programs will tip off for the first time this fall at South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado. The college is pursuing acceptance into the National Junior College Athletic Association. It is applying for NJCAA Division II, which allows for providing college scholarships to athletes.

SouthArk administrators began considering it two years ago when the Arkansas Legislature cleared the way for Arkansas community colleges to start new intercollegiate sports.

Starting intercollegiate scholarship basketball was natural, in part, because throughout most of the 1980s SouthArk forebear Southern Arkansas University-El Dorado had such a team, the Stars, according to SouthArk president Dr. Barbara Jones.

“Basketball has a rich history on our campus, so we’re proud to bring college basketball and the Stars mascot back to this institution, and the surrounding area,” Jones said. “This is something that we’ve been discussing for some time, and we’re happy to unveil it officially. We believe that the Stars will generate excitement both in our campus community, as well as in the community at large. It’s a great opportunity for area athletes to continue their basketball careers beyond high school, while getting a top-rung college education.”

Coaching the Stars men’s team will be Nate Davis, currently the boys’ head basketball coach at Hermitage High School. “I’m truly blessed to be given the opportunity to not only lead, but build, the men’s basketball program here at South Arkansas Community College,” Davis said. “There is so much talent in the area, and now we will be able not only to showcase these student-athletes on the court, but also help further their college education as well. I sincerely believe that with the support of our community, this will become something very special.”

Coaching the women will be Michael Wolfe, currently the girls’ head basketball coach at Dermott High School. “It’s a dream come true,” Wolfe said, referring to his new position at SouthArk. “What a great opportunity for female athletes to play at this level, and showcase their skills in this community.”

Jones expressed confidence in the two new Stars coaches. “Both of them bring various experiences and much enthusiasm to SouthArk’s programs. You will be seeing a lot of more of them in the community soon,” Jones said. “When our teams begin competing this fall, I encourage sports fans in the area to come out and support our men’s and women’s teams. To borrow a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, ‘Keep your eyes on the Stars.’”

This season, Stars home games will be played at the El Dorado Boys and Girls Club. A schedule is development now. Fans will be able to purchase tickets at the door, as well as season passes. There also will be a Stars booster club, and sponsorships will be available through the SouthArk Foundation.