Murphy Oil contributes $10 Million for student housing, stadium

Students at South Arkansas College in El Dorado soon will have the opportunity to live in a residence hall, and attend games at a new baseball stadium, through a package of capital improvement projects that will be made possible in large part by a $10 million charitable gift from Murphy Oil Corporation announced Tuesday.

“We are extremely pleased to provide the financial means for South Arkansas College to enhance and expand its facilities for the betterment of its students and the community. We believe that funding these key capital projects is a worthy investment that will generate significant returns for SouthArk and El Dorado for many years to come,” said Roger W. Jenkins, CEO of Murphy Oil Corporation.

The announcement came this week shortly following the conclusion of the second consecutive season in which the SouthArk Stars baseball team advanced to the NJCAA Division II World Series, which is the pinnacle of the sport for junior college programs.

Following up that excitement with this exciting announcement has been especially thrilling, president Dr. Stephanie Tully-Dartez said.

“In order to fulfill our mission and provide educational opportunities to our community, the college needs to grow. Having intercollegiate athletics on our campus has brought new energy and new students,” she said. “It makes sense to add to our existing athletic facilities as we add to our academic offerings. There has been an interest in and a need for student housing at SouthArk for many years, but settling on the right approach and finding the funding anchor has taken time. We are so thankful that Murphy Oil is providing that base layer of funding, which this project will be built off of — both figuratively, and literally.”

Both parts of the project will be located on the West Campus, which connects to downtown El Dorado. The proposed student residence hall is expected to be placed in an area south of the El Dorado Conference Center along West Avenue, facing west, which now has the college’s maintenance building as well as a vacant lot. Exact specifications have not been determined, but the facility likely would open with housing space for about 100 students, with room for later expansion.

The proposed baseball stadium will be located at the southwest corner of Hillsboro Street and West Avenue, which also currently is a vacant lot.

The two facilities together, coupled with the finished improvements to the Hillsboro corridor now underway, when complete will provide a clear visual marker for the southern entrance of SouthArk’s campus.

The target date to opening for these facilities is fall of 2026. Land needed to build these facilities already has been purchased.

Tully-Dartez emphasized that funding streams beyond the Murphy gift, both private and public, will be sought to help complete the project’s financing. A capital campaign has started which will include multiple opportunities for support, including naming rights for portions of the project. Information about that will be rolling out in coming weeks, she said.

“These improvements to our campus will help beautify the area and ultimately, bring more college students to El Dorado who may eventually decide to stay here, accept local jobs, have families and contribute to the overall health of the economy in the city,” the president said.

SouthArk Build projects


Map of area where proposed student housing facility and baseball stadium will be located.

Ursery tabbed for weekly honor

SouthArk freshman pitcher Ryan Ursery has received Player of the Week honors for NJCAA Region 2 for the week ending on Sunday (April 21).

The Pine Bluff left-hander is the first pitcher in SouthArk’s three-year history to claim NJCAA weekly honors. Over the week, he went the distance on the mound in a 4-2 victory over visiting Region 2 foe Rich Mountain.

On the season, Ursery is 8-3 with a 2.83 ERA. His wins put him top 10 in the region. He has started 13 games.

The Stars (27-19, 14-10 in region play) sit tied for fifth place in Region 2 with about a week and a half remaining in the regular season.

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Stars win district title, advance to NJCAA Tournament

The South Arkansas College Stars punched their ticked to the NJCAA Division II Tournament with a 94-75 defeat of St. Louis Community College in the Central Plains District Championship on Saturday at Wildcat Arena on the campus of El Dorado High School.

It marks the first time that a SouthArk basketball team, in its five-year history, has advanced to the national tournament.

SouthArk (21-8), champions of Region 2, combined superior depth with an active defensive presence which led the Archers (22-10), champs of Region 16, to struggle to find consistent offense. Meanwhile, defensively, St. Louis keyed heavily on Star sophomore point guard Troy Ramos, an All-Region performer and SouthArk’s leading scorer all season. The tactic kept Ramos’ shooting at bay through much of the game—though eventually he finished with 16 points—but his impact still was felt as a distributor, with a 10-assist performance.

St. Louis, however, had no answer for Stars sophomore guard Damian Garcia, who had a career night and game-high in scoring, with 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and a steal. He was eight of 14 from the floor including two of three from the three-point line. He added four of six on free-throw shooting.

The Archers also struggled to contain sophomore forward Jamarian Cato, who scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds off of the bench.

The game was tight through the first half, with many lead changes. St. Louis went up by as many as six points nearing the five-minute mark of the period. SouthArk then went on a 13-2 run to reclaim the lead, and from there, trailed only once more, by 29-28, for less than 30 seconds. Garcia’s three pointer with 2:26 left in the half put SouthArk on top for good, but the score still had several snug moments in first 10 minutes of the second half

The lead first grew to double digits at the 14:35 mark of the second half, 48-36, on Garcia’s second three. The Archers managed to trim the deficit to as little as five points, but Ramos’ two free throws at 9:47 tipped off a run that broke the game open for SouthArk. After scoring five more points consecutively in the next minute, the Stars never were in significant danger again.

Braedon Edison scored 13 points on six of 10 from the field to round out double-figure scoring for SouthArk, and added five rebounds and five assists.

The national tournament features 20 teams and is double elimination. SouthArk’s first game will be on March 18, but seeds and pairings will not be revealed until a live selection show, presented by the NJCAA, at noon on Tuesday.

Ramos selected to All-Region 2 Team

South Arkansas College point guard Troy’reon Ramos (Pine Bluff) has been selected for the NJCAA Division II All-Region 2 team.

Ramos, a sophomore transfer from Arkansas Baptist, made his presence felt immediately for the SouthArk Stars as the fulcrum around which the Region 2 Tournament champions have pivoted all season. He led the team in scoring with 17.4 points per game (fourth in Region 2) and shot 84.3 percent from the foul line (first in Region 2) and 41.7 from three (third in Region 2). He also averaged 6.4 assists (third in Region 2).

“It’s a great accomplishment,” SouthArk head coach Cam Robinson said, “and one that is well-deserved.”

The guard is the first player in SouthArk basketball program history to be selected first-team All-Region.

Ramos’ time in a Stars uniform isn’t finished yet, as his team will host St. Louis Community College on Saturday in the championship game for the Plains District.

southark tramos

Portilloz selected as NJCAA Player of Week

For the second time in her career, South Arkansas College’s Kylee Portilloz has been selected as a national Player of the Week.

The sophomore forward, who hails from Choudrant, Louisiana, put up 29 points and 16 rebounds in a 102-78 loss to the University of Arkansas-Cossatot, and 30 points and 16 rebounds in an 86-82 win over Arkansas State University-Mid-South, resulting in her selection as the NJCAA Division II women’s basketball Player of the Week for the week ending on Feb. 27.

She was selected for the same honor just more than a year ago, the first time that any SouthArk student-athlete from any sport was selected for a national honor.

She was selected as DII Region 2 Player of the Week for the week ending on Feb. 25, which covered the same two-game stretch. That marked the third time that the forward had been tabbed for the regional honor.

Portilloz, who was second team All-Region 2 last year as a freshman, is considering offers to continue playing basketball at a four-year university with her two years of remaining eligibility. Her outstanding career in a Stars uniform ended on Wednesday with a 75-50 loss to North Arkansas College in the Region 2 Basketball Tournament. In two seasons, Portilloz averaged 19 points and 11.1 rebounds.

 portilloz kylee