Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Long’s detractors use ad to question worth
Jeff Long, director of athletics and vice chancellor, left, congratulates Jimmy Dykes after being introduced as the eighth women's head basketball coach Sunday, March 30, 2014, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Jeff Long got his own fan feedback in an ad on page five of Sunday’s sports section.
Someone, or some people, are concerned about the salary Long makes (with bonuses it can top $1.2 annually) as the vice chancellor and athletic director for the University of Arkansas, and the results of the Razorbacks’ football and basketball teams.
The ad cited only three bowl games and no NCAA basketball tournament appearances during Long’s six years.
It didn’t mention, but could have, that Arkansas is the only SEC member not to appear in a bowl game or the NCAA basketball tournament this year.
The ad was bought by Friends of The Razorbacks, C.Johnson, Treasurer, 401 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas, 78701
That address is a bank and office complex that houses some state and federal offices.
Maybe there is a hint of irony in the address since the ad complained that Long got his last raise because the Dallas Morning News reported him as being one of the three finalists for the AD’s job at the University of Texas, which is less than a mile from 401 Congress Avenue.
Here’s the deal on Long’s $100,000 raise, another $100,000 coming this summer and a $100,000 bonus: He didn’t ask for the money.
Chancellor David Gearhart made the offer and Long, like anyone else would have done, said thank you very much.
No one turns down a raise.
Look, I don’t think Long is perfect. In fact, I don’t like the way he treats the mainstream media. If he moves press row in Bud Walton again, we’ll be watching softball.
And I have no idea what a fair salary is for an athletic director, but he apparently makes about $500,000 more than Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart and a little less than Florida’s AD Jeremy Foley. Those two guys have basketball programs in the Final Four.
The highest paid AD in the SEC is at Vanderbilt, but David Williams has jobs other than vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs. He also holds the positions of general counsel and secretary for the university and for Vanderbilt Medical Center, for which he receives a little more than $3 million annually, but the bulk of that are for the jobs other than overseeing athletics.
Again, I don’t like everything Long does, like the cloak of secrecy that seems to cover the athletic department. At a time like this, you would think every practice would be open to the public to help create more interest.
Yet, he inherited John Pelphrey as a basketball coach.Pelphrey was hired by former Chancellor John White.
Long worked diligently and patiently with Pelphrey but in the end he gave up and fired him and hired Mike Anderson, who has steadily shown progress in the program.
Long handled the Bobby Petrino mess so well he was named as one of Under Armour’s Athletic Directors of the Year in 2013.
He openly admits hiring John L. Smith, even on a temporary basis, was a mistake.
As for his hiring of Bret Bielema, it is far too early to be claiming Bielema can’t get the job done. Like Anderson, Bielema took over a team that was lacking discipline.
I’m for freedom of speech and that’s what the ad was,and it created a stir judging by my emails and phone calls received.
Perhaps Long, who apparently is the fifth-highest paid AD in the country according to USA Today, appears to be paid more than the wins or losses would equate to, but he has built a new football facility and has a basketball practice facility being built, and he’s not using tax dollars on these projects.
But, if you are an unhappy fan and feel Long isn’t getting the job done, the ad told you who to write and gave the addresses.
Sports, Pages 17 on 04/01/2014