Arkansas To Honor Remainder Of Jeff Long's Deal Through '22; Interim AD Named
The Univ. of Arkansas yesterday said that it will "honor" former AD Jeff Long's contract, which runs through June 30, 2022, and that Senior Associate AD Julie Cromer Peoples will serve as interim AD, according to Jones & Musa of the ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. Long was making $750,000 per year and is owed a $1M buyout for "each remaining year if he is terminated without cause." Long also is currently a member of the CFP selection committee, and CFP Exec Dir Bill Hancock in a statement yesterday said that Long "will serve for the remainder of this season." Jones & Musa note Long's ouster yesterday came six days after the BOT "met for more than three hours in executive session while Long waited outside the room." Long had "come under public pressure over the football team's performance." He oversaw an era in which the athletic department "reaped benefits from large TV and multimedia rights agreements." Long helped increase the department's annual revenue from $49.5M the year before he arrived to just less than $125M in the latest reporting period. Long also "commissioned a master plan for athletic facilities" in '11 and has "overseen the renovation or construction of eight projects in the past six years," including the ongoing $160M renovation to Razorback Stadium (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, 11/16).
POLITICAL MACHINATIONS: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Wally Hall said, "Somebody on the Board of Trustees obviously liked Jeff, and he did a really good job of taking care of two or three people on the Board. Meanwhile, there was someone on the Board who wasn’t being given all the attention and had been carefully studying Jeff’s business tactics and compiled a very impressive and detailed report and shared it with members of the Board. Suddenly, there was a 5-5 split on the Board about whether Jeff should stay or not. Over the course of the last few weeks, it slowly grew. Last Thursday, it apparently became a 9-1 vote” ("The Paul Finebaum Show," SEC Network, 11/15).
HISTORY LESSON: The AP's Kurt Voigt noted Long "came into prominence nationally" for his handling of football coach Bobby Petrino's departure in '12. He was "praised after that season" for hiring Bret Bielema awat from Wisconsin, but the football team has "struggled mightily since the end of last season" (AP, 11/15). Fayetteville-based KFSM-CBS' Tyler Cass noted there was "plenty of success to be found in other programs" during Long's tenure. Long hired Mike Anderson in '11 and he brought men's basketball "back to its former glory." Long also "oversaw the building of the Basketball Performance center" in '15, "further enriching the program." Arkansas soccer "saw unprecedented success under Long," while track and field and baseball also got new indoor facilities (5NEWSONLINE.com, 11/15).
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW: In Little Rock, Clay Henry wrote Long "did an admirable job in the most difficult job of following a most outstanding king." Henry: "How would you like to follow Frank Broyles as athletics director?" No one wants to "follow a man who gets to see his own statue unveiled." There was "good, bad and ugly of the Long era." He "ached to be called a football guy, but he didn't have any real credentials to back that up" (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, 11/16). In Arkansas, David McCollum wrote Long "appeared distant." He "didn't have Broyles' warm, engaging personality." Long also was "following a legend and a giant shadow in the face of a changing culture in athletics" Trying to "follow a legend, an institution, doesn't often end well" (LOG CABIN DEMOCRAT, 11/16).
DISCONNECT WITH HOGS FANS: The DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE's Hall writes Long "never got Arkansas football, its history, pride or tradition." During Long's tenure, he "hired 14 people as part of his administrative team and 13 were from out of state." In the last five years, he "added nine people to his team, and all that did was put more cushion between him and the heart and soul of the program." Long started "losing the fans the first time he walked a wealthy donor down the 'A' that the band forms for the team to run through before the opening kickoff on the way to the field." Hall: "It is a great honor for an Arkansas player to have that honor and it should not be for sale" (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, 11/16).