by Joe Wyatt Published December 2, 2020 The Amarillo College Board of Regents voted Dec. 1 to establish an intercollegiate athletics program featuring three sports tentatively scheduled to begin play in the 2022-2023 school year. AC, which has not participated in intercollegiate athletics since the mid-1980s, will return to the competitive arena with teams in men’s baseball, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country. If the new programs prove successful, additional sports may be added to the mix over time. “Our goal in reestablishing athletics at AC is to offer more traditional on-campus experiences that we believe will appeal to and attract local students who are not currently choosing to attend our College,” said Dr. Paul Proffer, the regent who spearheaded the initiative. “We chose these particular sports to launch the program because of their relative affordability, and due to the nature of the success they regularly achieve in high schools throughout our region. I think we can stock competitive teams in these sports rather quickly.” Under Proffer’s direction, the Board has spent almost three years assessing a return to competitive athletics. Surveys have been conducted among area middle school, high school and college athletes, coaches and administrators, and the feedback has been predominantly supportive of adding sports at AC. With Board approval in hand, the College next will apply for membership in the National Junior College Athletic Association, a process that requires a probationary year, and to the Western Junior College Athletic Association. Renovations authorized by the bond Amarillo voters passed in 2019 will soon begin at AC’s Carter Fitness Center, where alterations will feature, in part, updated locker rooms, courts and bleachers to accommodate women’s volleyball. Additionally, while a venue for baseball has not yet been identified, Proffer said he has met with representatives of Amarillo’s minor league affiliate, the Sod Poodles, about the possibility of AC playing games at their field – Hodgetown.