Donors will give, Broyles or not

LITTLE ROCK — People who care deeply about the University of Arkansas athletic program will continue to write checks as long as the person doing the asking is informed and passionate and the pig is prominent.

Many of the givers do so to support the Arkansas Razorbacks, not the Frank Broyles Razorbacks. It's the same in Baton Rouge, La., Lexington, Ky., Columbia, S.C., and Gainesville, Fla., where the money goes for the Tigers, the Wildcats, the Gamecocks and the Gators.

Broyles' longevity is wondrous and his legacy is secure, but there is nothing inherent about such tenure that says Broyles and his successor should be joined at the hip.

I'm pretty certain that somebody will be deputized to familiarize the new man with the nuances of Pig Sooiee, and provide bios of the Tyson family, Jim Lindsey and others who have helped through the years. And, I can't imagine those in charge hiring a fundraiser who is blah about the Razorbacks.

Pittsburgh A.D. Jeff Long looks like the man and it could be official as soon as today.

Meanwhile, it should be made clear that Chancellor John White, in cooperation with UA System President B. Alan Sugg and UA Board of Trustees chairman Stanley Reed, has pursued the new athletic director with the support of the board.

Shortly after Broyles announced his resignation, White outlined his plan to work closely with Sugg and Reed.

"John laid out the process and the board was comfortable with it," Reed said Monday.

All 10 members of the board might not agree with the trio's selection, but the search would have been a fiasco if the entire board had been involved.

For one thing, White was sensitive about confidentiality when he talked to anyone, including potential candidates in sensitive situations at other schools.

In fact, the 48-year-old Long was interviewed near Pittsburgh last week and made the trip to Fayetteville on Friday because his wife wanted to see the campus and the area. Fayetteville-based KHOG had film of Long getting off the UA plane because a helicopter pilot at a Pittsburgh station spotted the plane and called cohorts in Arkansas.

The string of facilities along Razorback Road is a stout testimony to Broyles, but there is also the possibility that his exit will open the door to new donors or prompt some former contributors to return to the fold.

It is also true that the facilities are not Broyles' doings alone.

He would be the first to tell you that Baum Stadium was built because of the relationship former baseball coach Norm DeBriyn had with Charlie and Nadine Baum and the family of Pat and Willard Walker. The Tyson indoor track is in appreciation of John McDonnell's accomplishments and Nolan Richardson's success convinced Bud Walton that the basketball team needed a new arena.

Mentioned in this space May 26 as a person who fit the UA profile, Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson was never interviewed, but he is one of those who has raised millions at a school without previous connections to that institution. His background is mostly Tulsa with a touch of Washington State.

Around the Southeastern Conference, the resumes of the athletic directors run the gamut.

In his fifth year at Kentucky, Mitch Barnhart graduated from Ottawa University in Kansas. He worked at San Diego State, Oregon, SMU, Tennessee and Oregon State before taking over in Lexington. Best I could tell, Blue was never his color until 2002.

At Florida, Jeremy Foley has been at the school in some capacity for 30 years, including 15 as A.D. He started as an intern and was ticket manager in the late 1970s.

Eric Hyman has been the A.D. at South Carolina for barely two years. A football player at North Carolina, he worked at VMI, Miami University in Ohio and for seven years at TCU.

Jay Jacobs grew up 20 miles from Auburn, went to school there and has been on the staff in one capacity or another for more than 20 years.

There is no surefire formula. At Arkansas, Long (or whomever) will be his own man. That is the only way to get out from under Broyles' long shadow.



Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media's Arkansas News Bureau. e-mail: hking@arkansasnews.com.

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