UA Chancellor Offers Limited Support For Nutt

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Chancellor John White on Thursday expressed support for Houston Nutt, but White stopped short of giving the embattled football coach a vote of confidence.

White said he'll evaluate the Razorbacks' football program at the end of the season, but he didn't say anything to dispel the notion that Nutt's job was in question.

"Well, I'm looking forward to us winning two more games. I don't know about you, but we've got a lot of football yet to play. So I'm excited about that," White said Thursday. "I know that Houston and his family have been through a lot of difficulties, and my thoughts and my prayers frankly have been with him and his family.

"Houston and I have had many opportunities to chat during this year, and he knows that I'm there encouraging him and supporting him in every way that I can."

Nutt's job security has been a debated topic all season. With two games remaining in the regular season, the Razorbacks (6-4, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) are not yet assured of a bowl berth.

Nutt's contract runs through Dec. 31, 2012.

If he's fired before then, the Razorback Foundation must pay him $329,644 per year for the remainder of his contract, according to his personal services and guaranty agreement.

That amount would total $1,648,220 over the remaining five years of Nutt's contract if he's fired after this season and doesn't find another job.

Nutt would have to pay Arkansas $500,000 if he decides to leave after this season for another job, according to his contract.

"When we get to the end of the season, as we've done in the past, I'll talk with (retiring athletic director Frank) Broyles about the situation, and we'll decide what we're going to do at that time," White said.

"But in the meantime, all of our energies are directed at how can we help (the football team) win two more games."

A large number of Arkansas fans, who had high hopes entering the season, have booed Nutt and gone on Internet message boards and sports talk radio shows to call for his job.

Some fans have also paid for banners critical of Nutt to be flown around Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium on game days.

Nutt's future may depend on how the Razorbacks finish the regular season against Mississippi State (6-4, 3-3) on Saturday in Little Rock and at top-ranked LSU (9-1, 5-1) on Nov. 23.

Complicating matters is the fact that Broyles will step down as Arkansas' athletic director at the end of the year.

Former University of Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long has already been hired as Broyles' replacement, but he won't assume control of the athletic department until Jan. 1.

In the meantime, Long is serving as an advisor to White. It remains uncertain how much influence he'll have in the decision on whether Nutt will return next season.

"I'm an advisor to Chancellor White until Jan. 1, and at that point I'll take over the reins. But you know what? We have two very important football games left to play," Long said. "My support is with our student-athletes and coaches and that's where it should be."

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