This writer has received several tips in the past few months that Frank Broyles was headed for retirement as Arkansas athletic direcotr in the near future. Some were even credible sources. And, when those sources said near future, they were predicting an April decision at a soon-to-be-called Board of Trustees meeting. Another source, noting the BOT had a letter of retirement on file, said Broyles would step down in June.
But I never believed any of that. Frank is not about to retire. He isn't going anywhere until something drastic happens to his health. His prediction that he would be athletic director for many, many years at Stan Heath's hiring news conference was probably more truth than fiction.
You hear many things on the hill, but that is one of the things that I never believe ... when someone tells me that the athletic director will step down soon. I just don't believe it.
It was around the time of the NCAA Indoor track meet that I heard that Frank would soon retire and I heard it from more than a handful that night at the Tyson Indoor Track Center. I also heard that John White's handpicked successor for the athletic director's job was Bev Lewis. Along with making Bev his AD, White wanted her to merge the two departments, the story went. That meger had been attempted once before and it failed miserably.
At this point, I do not believe either scenario is going to happen ... Frank's retirement or the merger of the two departments.
I also believe that Frank's position as athletic director is more solid than ever. He has almost 100 percent support of Razorback Foundation donors. His successful ouster of Nolan Richardson solidified his position beyond what anyone might have dreamed. I also think that many of those that were against Frank during the Great Stadium Debate now are back in the fold because of Frank's successful ouster of Nolan.
The irony of the entire scenario is that Nolan thought that Frank's move to fire him -- along with the ongoing NCAA investigation -- would be the straw that broke the camel's back and that Frank would not survive. That might have been the case had Nolan handled the entire situation in a different way. However, Nolan's comments before and after his ouster made Frank's decision extremely popular and left him in his strongest postion in many years.
Nolan Richardson did have support in this state, and might have been able to done a few things to hurt Frank had he handled things differently. So far, he's botched them, and I don't believe there's anything he can do now that would harm Frank in the eyes of the Razorback Nation.
The thing that mystifies me more than anything about Frank these days concerns his motivation. The stadium is virtually done. Nolan is gone. So what will Frank do to keep himself busy? Without a major project looming, that may be the only real question that looms in the athletic department. Indeed, that is a strange turn of events.
What isn't strange is that we all can clearly see that Frank is sitting pretty as the dust settles. That's the way it's been for almost 50 years, and it doesn't appear anything is on the hoirzon that will alter that situation.
No doubt, Frank still has a few critics. No one makes as many tough decisions as he's made for so many years without stepping on a few toes. At least for the moment, those critics have gone silent and are singing his praises.