FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jeff Long, athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh, was introduced Tuesday as the new director of men’s athletics at the University of Arkansas, effective Jan. 1, 2008. The following is a transcript of the press conference.
Chancellor John White
“Thank you for joining us for an important announcement. By now, you know why we are here, and you know who I will introduce as the next Director of Men’s Athletics here at the University of Arkansas. Before doing so, I want to acknowledge the assistance of a number of individuals. First, I want to recognize Mr. Stanley Reed, chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, and Dr. B. Alan Sugg, President of the University of Arkansas, who worked with me the past seven months to secure a Director of Men’s Athletics to follow in the steps of legendary Frank Broyles. Assisting us in the process every step of the way was Mike Slive, Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. His insights, contacts, and counsel were invaluable in the process. I wish Commissioner Slive could be here today, but his schedule did not allow him to attend. But, he asked me to convey his delight in our selection and his eagerness to work with our new A.D. in the months and years ahead. Another person who played a pivotal role in the search was Mr. Dutch Baughman, Executive Director of the Division 1-A Athletics Directors Association. He extends his appreciation and best wishes to Coach Broyles for his significant contributions to intercollegiate athletics. Dutch also extends to our new Athletics Director his heartiest congratulations and he too looks forward to working with Jeff in the coming months and years.
“During the closing weeks of the search, we secured the services of Mr. Dan Parker, of Parker Executive Search in Atlanta. Once we got into the red zone, Dan assisted us in getting the ball across the goal line. Chairman Reed, President Sugg, and I extend our deepest appreciation to Dan Parker and his team for their assistance. To them, we say, another job well done to Razorback athletics. During the summer, Stanley, Alan, and I gathered information on a number of individuals. We received nominations and we did background searches so that we would be in a position to develop a short list of individuals in whom we had serious interest. Certainly, finding a successor to a legend is a daunting responsibility. Especially, when the person sought is entrusted with a state treasure, such as Razorback athletics. In conducting the search process, we sought input from dozens of respected individuals in college athletics. As we did so, one name kept popping up—Jeff Long.
“Jeff is an established leader with a track record in success with honor. He understands the role of intercollegiate athletics at major public research universities. He is positioned to raise the bar even higher for Arkansas athletics, inside and outside of competition. In retrospect, we could have saved ourselves a lot of work if we had met sooner with Jeff and Fanny Long, because once we met with them, we knew who we wanted. The challenge was making sure they wanted us as much as we wanted them. Jeff, of course, had a very, very good job at a prestigious public university, and he was seeing the fruits of his labors at Pitt. It would not be an easy sell. Fortunately, we were able to persuade Jeff and Fanny to visit Fayetteville, to see the campus and the town. While Jeff is familiar with our campus, Fanny was not. It didn’t long to convince Fanny. She liked what she saw. She was able to envision her family moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and making a home here.
“Since our interest in Jeff became known publicly a few days ago, most of you have learned that he is a native of Kettering, Ohio. He played football and baseball at Ohio Wesleyan. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in education. He’s held a variety of athletic positions at Rice, Duke, North Carolina State, Eastern Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh, and we are excited about this being his next and last position that he will hold in his career. What you might not have learned but soon will is Jeff married way above himself when he convinced Fanny Gellrich to marry him. Fanny is a devoted mother to Stephanie, 13, and Christina, 8, who are with us today. She is also very supportive of Jeff. On top of that, until just recently, Fanny was heavily involved in equestrian competitions. She has aspirations of owning her own bakery. I think French pastries are going to be in my future. Lest you wonder, I have already begun to recruit Stephanie and Christina. Stephanie is in eighth grade, Christina is in the third grade and I’m counting on them coming to the University of Arkansas in three and a half and in eight in a half years.
“Although Jeff will not become director of men’s athletics until January 1, 2008, he will serve as an advisor to me in the interim, but he has a number of things to complete at Pitt before he’ll make the transition to Arkansas. So this is not the day when Frank Broyles hands the baton to Jeff Long, however, it is the day when Coach Broyles publicly welcomes Jeff Long to the Razorbacks family. To that end, I am pleased to introduce Coach Frank Broyles.”
Director of Men’s Athletics Frank Broyles
“Thank you. Most of you have heard me say about my time at Arkansas over and over again that I have had a charmed life, and I have. I’ve had a charmed life being a part of the Razorback program. Most of you know that it’s the only job I have ever wanted. From the time I was an assistant coach at Baylor playing against Arkansas and John Barnhill’s team, I wanted someday to be the head of the Razorback program. When the job opened up in 1953, I called Barnhill; he didn’t return my call. Then in 1956, it opened up again and I called him again and he didn’t return my call, but you know things have a way of working out. I got the job at Missouri and was the head coach there and couldn’t apply for the job again, so I’m sitting there on a Saturday morning at 9:21 on December 3 and the telephone rings and it went like this:
“‘Hello, Frank, this is Barney’ and I said ‘what the heck have you been waiting on?’ He said, ‘I been waiting to get the ducks on the pond.’ So I said ‘are they swimming now?’ and he said yes, so I said ‘I accept.’ He said ‘be here Friday and we’ll make the announcement.’ That’s the way it all came about.
“Not may people get to live that dream that you dream of and want all of your life to be able to be a part of the best fan base and best university in America for fifty years. I want to tell you I enjoyed coming to work every day. That’s a wonderful trait to have and position to have when you look forward enthusiastically to come to work that day. When I left, I would go home proud of what we had done and I know Barbara would say I was a better husband and a better father because I came home with a wonderful attitude after working with the Razorbacks. I want to you I was so happy because I loved all the people I worked with. From the time I came until today, I love the people I worked with. I also love the people I work for and that are the Razorback fans. Today, Jeff and Fanny, I wish you and all your family the same charmed life that I have had. You are definitely, definitely, definitely in the right place for that to happen. Thank you.”
Newly Hired Director of Men’s Athletics Jeff Long
“Thank you everyone. I can’t begin to describe to you my feelings of excitement to be here. I’m just thrilled to be here at the University of Arkansas getting ready to lead the program that Frank Broyles has built over some 50 years. It is a daunting task but I am excited to be here and I’m excited to get started. This is obviously a tremendous opportunity, not only for me, but for my family, and we thank Chancellor White, President Sugg, Stanley Reed and Coach Broyles for this opportunity for me and my family. Throughout the search process, Chancellor White has provided me a great picture of the University of Arkansas and he’s been very understanding and courtesy to me as I weighed a very important decision, and on that level, a very difficult decision, so I think him for that understanding. I am extremely proud to be here today as the next athletics director of the men’s program here at Arkansas. I know the first question many of you will ask is how am I going to fill Frank Broyles’ shoes. I asked myself that question and I didn’t get concerned until I got here and saw just how big Coach Broyles feet are. They are really big. Chancellor White, I don’t know what you’ve gotten me into here. The obvious answer to that question is that I can not possibly fill Coach Frank Broyles shoes. I will never try to replace Frank Broyles. I am honored to be offered this position of leadership that he has held and I am humbled at the opportunity to do so.
“A quick review of the athletic program that he and his staff have built will give you an astonishing record: 43 national championships, 57 Southwest Conference championships, 48 Southeastern Conference championships and athletic facilities that are simply second to none in the United States. But we may have a 44th (national championship) because Coach John McDonnell rolls off national championships so fast; we might have gotten a 44th just since I’ve been here. Well, I’m sure the 44th (title) is on the way; I’m counting on that. Seriously, it’s not lost on me that we’re here today in the Broyles Athletic Center. I do know and understand and respect Coach Broyles. As you know, he has spent 50 years of his life with this institution, an institution he loves so dearly. Coach Broyles, I think it’s fair to say you’re not only an icon here in the state of Arkansas, but across the country. Many of you are probably wondering why I chose to come here and try to replace and fill the shoes of this respected and beloved leader. Well, Coach Broyles said it best when he said in a phone conversation that the job is never finished. There is always more to do, but most importantly Coach Broyles told me that I had his full support and that made all the difference in the world. Coach, I think you for that.
“Even with all that Coach Broyles has done here, there is more to do for our student-athletes and with the support of Chancellor White, Coach Broyles and our Razorback athletics department family, I expect that we will climb to even higher achievements here in this department because there is truly more to do. With the focus on our student-athletes, we will do even more here and with the support of Coach Broyles, we only have great things ahead of us. I promised Chancellor White when he gave me this opportunity, that I would do everything in my power to continue to build upon the tremendous academic and athletic tradition that has been established here at the University of Arkansas. I make that same commitment to the same Razorback fans that I address today. I will do everything in my power to build upon this great tradition.
“In addition to the challenges, there are many more reasons we chose to come here to Northwest Arkansas, the city of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas. As senior associate athletic director at the University of Oklahoma, I had the chance to come here and compete against the Razorbacks. I found an unbelievable athletic complex, I found friendly people and I found teams that competed tenaciously on the field of battle. That impressed me deeply. I was also impressed deeply by the support of Razorback fans, not only throughout Arkansas, but in Razorback fans that extend throughout the country and the region. The SEC is obviously considered the strongest athletic conference in the nation from top to bottom in every sport. That’s an exciting challenge for me. More importantly, I believe the University of Arkansas is moving in the right direction, both academically and athletically.
“Under Chancellor White’s leadership, the university has made tremendous strides in every area of the university. These advancements can be seen in the continued growth in enrollment and the quality of students that are being attracted here to the University of Arkansas. I think Arkansas’ reputation is only going to grow in national prominence and that the best is yet to come. I will have the responsibility of building on the tradition that Coach Broyles and his staff have developed here and I look forward to joining with the members of the staff here to continue to build. I take great comfort in knowing that Coach Broyles is going to be assuming another position within the university. I feel his support will be vital to us moving forward and having him within the university, and just a stone’s throw away, I can call upon his expertise and call upon his experience is very comforting and exciting to me.
“I also look forward to working with Bev Lewis, our women’s athletic director. Again, she is known not only here in Arkansas, but she is known across the country as a tremendous leader and administrator of women’s athletics. And it is not lost on me, again, that when I met with her today, it was in the Bev Lewis Athletics Center. Bev, it is going to be my pleasure to work with you in the future and for many, many years to come. In addition, I am also to know and learn about the exciting staff that Coach Broyles has assembled here—outstanding coaching staff and outstanding supporting staff. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you and look forward to getting to know and work with you. I look forward to working with our coaches, Coach (Houston) Nutt, Coach (John) Pelphrey, who I met earlier, Coach (John) McDonnell, who is a legend himself, Coach (Dave) Van Horn, Coach (Robert) Cox, Coach (Brad) McMakin and all the members of our athletic programs, including the (Razorback) Foundation led by Chuck Dicus. As I stressed to Chancellor White, I am looking forward to working with the coaches and staff. I don’t have all the answers, but I know working with my people, we will come up with the right answers.
“In closing, let me say something about Pittsburgh, I greatly appreciate the opportunity that Chancellor Nordenburg gave me at the University of Pittsburgh to lead that athletic program. I came to Pitt at a critical time in its athletic history. Chancellor Nordenburg and I worked to rebuild the Big East Conference at a time when schools had left and new schools had come in. That was a tumultuous time. We worked together side-by-side to rebuild that conference and I am proud of that and very proud to have done that with Chancellor Nordenburg at the University of Pittsburgh. We built a strong program with student-athletes centered and one that was in line with the mission of the university. I am grateful to Chancellor Nordenburg for his leadership and for his friendship. And to the coaches and staff at Pitt that I leave, I want to thank them for all their hard work on behalf of our student-athletes. They really understand the message and the kind of program we were trying to build at Pitt, one focused on the student-athletes, our reason for being, so I thank them. To my staff, they have supported me every bit of the way and I will miss them dearly and I know that they will always hold a special place in my heart and again, I can not express to them back in Pittsburgh what they’ve meant to me and my family. We will miss them and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
“Finally, my family and I are thrilled to be coming to this beautiful part of the country, this dynamic community and this world-class educational institution. My wife, Fanny, and I are excited about living in Fayetteville and getting out daughters, Stephanie and Christina, settled here as soon as we can. I owe them special thanks for allowing me to pursue my dreams of making an impact on young people’s lives through intercollegiate athletics. I love you girls, thank you. Again, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to follow Coach Broyles to build on his legacy of excellence and start cheering for the Razorbacks this weekend against Alabama. I want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone, but before I take questions I’m going to need Coach Broyles to help me call the hogs for the very first time as the next men’s athletics director.”