Kleine Out, Schaeffer Back In

FAYETTEVILLE -- The voice of the Arkansas basketball radio broadcast is changing four games into the season.

Former longtime Arkansas sports information director and basketball color analyst Rick Schaeffer will take over for Joe Kleine, who was fired by the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network last week following the championship game of the Paradise Jam against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 22.

Kleine, an All-American at Arkansas, a member of the 1984 Olympic gold-medal winning team and a 15-year veteran of the NBA, served as color man to Mike Nail's play-by-play for the last four seasons and the first three games of this one.

The decision to remove Kleine was made by Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, who was released from the hospital Monday after going in last Friday for monitoring of his irregular heartbeat.

"We are grateful to Joe Kleine for the four years he has contributed to the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network and for the many years he has supported the Razorback program," Broyles said in a statement released by the university. "He set aside his valuable time to join our broadcast team and we are thankful for his efforts.

"A decision has been made to move in another direction on the radio broadcasts, but we hope that Joe will continue to be a part of our program whether as a television broadcaster or in another capacity."

Nail was emotional Monday talking about the abrupt and strangely timed decision to fire Kleine.

"I'm sorry for Joe," said Nail, who talked to Kleine "briefly" on Monday. "He's been a great supporter of the university and as far as I'm concerned did a good job on the radio.

"He's obviously a little bit hurt by it. I can understand that certainly."

Nail said he requested Schaeffer, who was the color man for 24 years from 1977-2000 and worked with Nail for 19, to replace Kleine.

"We've been friends and had a personal relationship for well over 20 years," Nail said of Kleine. "I enjoyed working with him. I loved working with him. I wasn't part of the decision-making to make a change.

"I'm glad -- and I asked ARSN and the university if they were going to make a change -- that they would get Rick back. Rick and I worked together for 19 years doing that and I feel very comfortable with him. You don't lose a step with him standing in there."

Schaeffer, who quit his position as sports information director at Arkansas in 2000 to take a job with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has worked Razorbacks baseball games for the past few seasons and said had to pick himself up off the floor when he was called last week about replacing Kleine.

In a release issued by ARSN, general manager Todd Curtis said Kleine would be given the opportunity to do the television broadcasts for six pre-Southeastern Conference games in December.

Arkansas freshman receiver Marcus Monk was in a practice jersey and high-tops Monday, but he won't start contributing anything meaningful until after finals.

Monk, 6-foot-6, 225, needs to rest a bruised right shoulder from the LSU game and will travel to New York next Tuesday while Arkansas plays at Missouri to accept one of four national Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards from the National Football Foundation.

Monk, the top freshman receiver in the SEC this year with 37 catches, 569 yards and 6 touchdowns, should add an instant energy, defensive and rebounding presence once he gets his basketball legs back.

"He's an ingredient you'd like to have because he can guard four positions out there on the court," Heath said. "It will be a welcome to have him out there.

"He's a chemistry guy. He's not a guy who needs shots to be effective. I see him as a guy not needing to play a whole lot of minutes. He's a guy who loves basketball and loves to win. He's going to do everything to help us."

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