University of Central Arkansas athletics and aviation programs receive new leaders

CONWAY, Ark.- New leadership is stepping forward for two programs at the University of Central Arkansas.

Dr. Brad Teague will step down as the UCA Athletic Director and become the UCA aviation academy director.

Teague has served as acting director since the program began in November. Now, he is setting history by becoming the first director of the UCA Aviation Academy.

UCA’s associate athletic director for external relations, Matt Whiting, will replace Teague as director of athletics effective July 1, 2024.

Dr. Brad Teague previously said in a press release, “Matt Whiting is an excellent choice for the role of athletic director. His experience and professionalism are perfect for the seamless transition.”

Teague came to Conway in 2007 after being the athletic director at Delta State University for four years.

“When a position came open he (UCA President) calls and asked if I’d be interested to come to Conway be the UCA AD, UCA was transitioning to division one and they already announced that so that was very enticing,” Teague said.

The transition to Division One took four years. according to Teague, it was a process.

“We’ve got a lot to do a lot to prepare a lot of upgrades to be done to be division one and so that was the first big undertaking,” Teague said. “Then it became what can we do to make sure we’re doing everything we can for our student-athletes for our coaches to give them the resources and tools necessary to be successful, so that’s really kind of been my mindset for the 17 years.”

Teague wanted to make it an excellent experience for the fans, donors, student-athletes, and coaches.

According to a UCA press release, he expanded the athletic program to include 19 sports, captured numerous championships, drastically improved facilities, and increased academics in sports.

“I’ve been an athletic director for 21 years, so I don’t know if it’s sent in yet that I will no longer be that, but I’m excited that I’ll be directing this new program, this new opportunity at UCA it’s very exciting,” Teague said.

Many of Teague’s family members are piolets, which has always interested him. While he worked as Delta State University’s AD, he pursued that dream.

“They have an aviation program at Delta State, and I just said, ‘ I’m going to do it. Let’s go for it and see where it goes. ‘ So, I went and got my private pilot license, which everyone does to start,’ Teague said.

Eventually, he worked to earn his commercial license and multi-engine rating, with over 20 years and 1500 hours of flight time.

“I just love it and it certainly helps me when prospecting our students and be able to talk that language, have those experiences, and talk to them about it and so that’s been very beneficial for me,” Teague said.

UCA has looked at starting an aviation program for a while, but Teague said it “never really fit” because it used to have to be a 4-year degree program.

“When the demand for pilots became so significant that commercial airlines said we no longer require a four-year degree, we just need pilots, the lightbulb went off for Dr. Houston Davis to say, well, maybe there’s a different way we can do this,” Teague said.

That is when Teague became involved. The school partnered with a company out of Little Rock called Central Flying Services, and their instructors were for the UCA aviation program.

“What I love is that I can be sitting in Conway in two hours later, I can be 400 miles away, and that’s what aviation can do for you, and I just love that opportunity,” Teague said.

When asked about the new change, Teague said, “I am excited that it is different. You know, I have been the athletic Director for 21 years, and certainly, things and athletics change daily, and then we saw that now in the national landscape of the NCAA, so that is exciting.”

Teague also expressed his excitement about the program’s interest. “I’m excited that we have a lot of interest. We have about 350 waiting right now to join our program, and we can take 15 at a time,” he said.

The City of Conway and the Conway Municipal Airport at Cantrell Field also partner with UCA to make the program possible.

“We are very fortunate to have a great airport,” Teague said. “We’re proud that we have that facility here in town and our students are excited about having a great airport to be able to train.”

Ground classes began in the College of Business, with the first group of 15 in March. Their class runs three nights a week and lasts about a month. After that, they take a written test, and once they pass, they go straight to the airport to start flight lessons, which take two to three months.

“UCA will build a new hanger with office and classroom space out at Conway airport, and so all the operations will be there for flights and so we’re really thrilled about it,” Teague said.

The UCA hanger will be completed by the middle of this fall.

Teague will remain an instructor in the master’s program in sports administration and will still be involved in athletics as the senior advisor.

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