The smaller programs in Division I deal with all sorts of difficulties. Limited funding, small home crowds, inferior facilities and lack of access to quality recruits are all issues facing teams in the lower-tier conferences.
Southland Conference team Central Arkansas added a new obstacle to the list of difficulties this weekend: having your head coach jump ship for an assistant coach position in the NBA less than a month before the start of the semester.
Coach Corliss Williamson was hired as an assistant by his old team, the Sacramento Kings, as UCA announced on its website (h/t College Basketball Talk).
Williamson had been the Bears' head coach for the last three seasons. Although his overall record at UCA was 26-62, his teams had been showing steady improvement, which is a big deal for what had been one of the worst teams in all of Division I basketball.
Last year, Williamson guided the Bears to their first-ever appearance in the Southland Conference tournament.
While the school already has a strong football team at the FCS level, for the first time there was finally reason for optimism surrounding the basketball team.
Unfortunately for Central Arkansas, uncertainty once again envelopes the program after losing its head coach shortly before the beginning of fall semester.
Williamson can hardly be blamed for jumping at the chance to join the staff of his former NBA team. However, it is unfortunate for UCA that it occurred so close to the start of the school year.
Associate head coach Clarence Finley has been promoted to interim head coach for the season, so hopefully having someone already with the program step in and take the reigns will help prevent a drop-off.
The UCA Bears are now left fighting against yet another obstacle on their path to success, but such is the life of teams at the bottom of Division I.