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Estes Stadium east side during a home football game.
The University of Central Arkansas participates in 14 NCAA Division I Varsity Sports and one Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA football), supported by the efforts of a diverse group of over 400 male and female student-athletes. Its men's teams are called the Bears and the women's are the Sugar Bears.

UCA presently competes in seven men's sports (American football, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, cross country and track) and eight women's sports (basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, golf, cross country and track).

From 1993 to 2006, UCA competed in the West Division of the Gulf South Conference. In 2005-2006, UCA's men's athletic teams won the conference's All Sports Trophy. However, on July 1, 2006, UCA moved to the Southland Conference, which is Division I-AA in football and Division I in all other sports. UCA plans to be a full Division I member by September 10, 2010.

Prior to moving to Division II, UCA competed in NAIA Division I for most sports, winning the national football championship three times (1984 {co-champs}, 1985 {co-champs} and 1991) and finishing runner-up once (1976). Between 1979 and 1992, UCA won or shared 13 out of 14 Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference championships (AIC) and went to the playoffs 12 times in that span. A number of former Bears have found success in the NFL, including Tom McConnaughey, Jacob Ford, Landon Trusty, Willie Davis, Tyree Davis, Dave Burnette, Curtis Burrow, Andre Collins, David Evans, and most notably Monte Coleman.

In 2008, the UCA Bear Football Team defeated more Southland Conference Opponents than any other conference team and were declared "Unofficial Southland Conference Champions." The Southland Conference nor the NCAA would recognize UCA as the champions due to the transition period from Division II.

Estes Stadium west side with players in action.
The most famous athlete in school history is unquestionably Scottie Pippen. Pippen was a 6'2" walk-on his first year at UCA, but by the time his sophomore year rolled around, he had grown to 6'7", and would be a starter for the next three seasons. Scottie was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 5th pick in the 1987 NBA draft, and then traded to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice. Polynice was never a major factor in the NBA, but Scottie won six world championships (1991–1993 and 1996–1998) while playing for the Bulls (1987 - 1998) alongside Michael Jordan. Not long after his retirement, Pippen was voted as one of the NBA's Top 50 Players of All-Time, and the Chicago Bulls retired his jersey number (#33). His jersey at UCA is also retired, and hangs in the rafters. Pippen also played for the Houston Rockets (1998 - 1999) and the Portland Trail Blazers (1999–2003). Pippen is retired, and lives with his family in Ft.marker Lauderdale, Floridamarker.


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