Longtime UA Athletic Trainer Changes Position

HOOVER, Ala. — Dean Weber didn't want to use the term "burn out," but after spending the past 35 years as Arkansas' athletic trainer, he admitted he was ready for a change.

Weber got his wish, and in the process, he became the latest staff member within Arkansas' athletic department to get reassigned.

Arkansas announced Thursday that Weber will step down as the longtime athletic trainer for the Razorbacks' football team and take on a new role as director of equipment operations. The move has been several years in the making, and Weber said it gives him a renewed sense of excitement.

"It had to be the right time, and now that the stars aligned, I guess, the timing is right and the opportunity is there," Weber said Thursday afternoon. "There was a need (with equipment operations) and I have some experience in this area, so it's worked out pretty good. I'm excited about it."

In his new position, Weber will oversee the equipment operations for all 19 of Arkansas' sports teams, including the distribution of apparel and footwear. However, he'll continue to be in charge of the athletic department's drug testing program.

Tim Cheney will remain Arkansas' equipment manager for football, but it's uncertain who will fill Weber's role as athletic trainer. Assistant athletic trainer Eric Linson is still on staff.

The idea of Weber working at Arkansas in a job other than as an athletic trainer sounds unusual. He joined the Razorbacks in March of 1973, and as its athletic trainer, he became a longtime fixture with the football program.

Former players from the 1970s and '80s still tell stories about Weber, but he said he had gotten to the point where he was looking for a new role within Arkansas' athletic department.

"I've had a plan all along. I just finished 40 years in this business," said Weber, who worked as an assistant athletic trainer at North Carolina before going to Arkansas. "I think the word ‘burn out' is a little bit overused, but when I turned 60 a couple of years ago, I had gotten to the point where I think I wanted to go in a different direction."

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who worked closely with Weber during his 10 years at Arkansas, said Thursday that Weber brought "a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience" as the school's athletic trainer.

"When he was taping ankles, a lot of the players wanted to go get in his line. He knew about the pulse of a team," Nutt said. "Every staff meeting I had we'd start out with him ... because he knew. He's such a difference-maker, a great guy."

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