Nutt's Future Remains In Limbo, Nothing Final

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas officials have not made a decision on the future of embattled football coach Houston Nutt, refuting media reports that circulated throughout the state on Friday.

Several sources familiar with the situation said the university's top officials have not been informed by Nutt that he plans to leave the Razorbacks at the end of the season. A source close to the team said Nutt met with the players Friday evening and told them he had not told anyone he is leaving, and that if he were to leave, he would tell them first.

Jimmy Sexton, Nutt's agent, strongly denied reports claiming Nutt will coach the final two games of the regular season before leaving for another head coaching job.

"There is no truth to that -- nothing, nothing," Sexton told The Morning News on Friday afternoon. "There is no truth to that whatsoever."

Multiple reports appeared on television and on Internet message boards on Friday, claiming Nutt will not coach the Razorbacks next season. Several reports stated Nutt would not be fired, but rather will leave Arkansas for another head coaching job at another school.

UA Chancellor John White said Friday following a Board of Trustees meeting in Little Rock he has had no discussions with Nutt about him leaving at the end of the season.

When asked if he had heard the report that Nutt would likely become Baylor's next coach, White said, "I have not heard that."

Nutt's job security has been a hot topic all season, and the Razorbacks' disappointing 6-4 record -- including a 2-4 mark in the Southeastern Conference -- has only increased speculation about his future.

Arkansas faces Mississippi State (6-4, 3-3) at 1 p.m. today in a critical game in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium. The game has major bowl implications, and it could also mark the final time that Nutt and Heisman Trophy candidate Darren McFadden take the field for the Razorbacks in Arkansas.

McFadden, Arkansas' all-time leading rusher, is expected to leave school after this season to be a top 10 pick in next year's NFL Draft.

White, meanwhile, expressed his support for Nutt following a news conference Thursday. White said he and Arkansas' outgoing athletic director Frank Broyles will evaluate the situation at the end of the season.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Friday that it would be "virtually impossible" at the moment for UA officials to make a decision on Nutt's future.

"It just depends on what happens," said the source, who is close to the situation. "It will be interesting to watch it kind of play out here, but I don't think anything at all has really been decided."

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

The media reports surfaced Friday afternoon after Arkansas' coaches and players had arrived in Little Rock for today's game.

Arkansas' players were aware of the reports about Nutt on Friday evening, a source said, and it quickly became the talk of the team. Nutt did not return calls to his cell phone, and Arkansas officials denied that any decision about Nutt's future has been made.

"It seems some media outlets chose to falsely legitimize baseless rumors today with unknown details from unnamed sources without first seeking the benefit of fact from the university," UA spokesperson Tysen Kendig said in a statement.

"The fact is, there has been no determination regarding the status of Houston Nutt nor would there be until the normal review process for coaches takes place after the season.

"The chancellor affirmed this very clearly, on the record, some 24 hours earlier, and nothing has changed in regard to the coach's status of the Razorback football team since that time. Reports to the contrary are misleading and irresponsible."

UA System President B. Alan Sugg said there was some discussion in the executive session of Friday's Board of Trustees meeting regarding which officials will have a say in the direction of Arkansas' football program.

Nutt was not discussed specifically, Sugg said.

"'Well, if there's any decision to be made, it would be a collective decision on the part of Frank Broyles and (incoming athletic director) Jeff Long and Dr. White," said Sugg, paraphrasing White.

Long, the former University of Pittsburgh athletic director, has already been hired to replace Broyles, 82, when he steps down at the end of the year.

Long is serving as an advisor to White in the meantime. It's uncertain how much influence Long will have in determining Nutt's future.

Morning News reporter Robbie Neiswanger and Arkansas News Bureau reporter John Lyon in Little Rock contributed to this report.

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