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:
Hog foundation's dry spell mirrors football team's
University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long speaks to reporters in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010, about the increased donation to the Razorback Foundation, Inc. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
On Monday the local story of the day was UALR baseball and on Tuesday it was the Razorback Foundation, a story so big it was on page 1A.
The foundation is not part of the University of Arkansas, although it is hard to buy a ticket to a Razorbacks football game if you haven't donated to the private fund. Apparently a lot fewer people are giving to the foundation, which had a drop of more than $10 million from the previous year, and therein lies the problem.
The foundation is still very wealthy, with assets of around $39 million, but a drop in giving of $10 million-plus in a year should be worrisome. It is highly unlikely the first paycheck from the SEC Network will cover that amount.
Perhaps, though, a drop was to be expected after record giving two years ago. The "Answer The Call" campaign was so successful the foundation received an additional $6 million.
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All of those new donors, as well as the seasoned givers, were then rewarded with a 4-8 season, one that included an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
The 2012 season under the often silly John L. Smith, acting as interim head coach, most likely had something to do with the drop in ticket sales last season, which was reported to be as much as 16 percent less than the previous year.
Then came the 3-9 record last year. Like it or not, one reason people donate and buy tickets is to be entertained, and lately the product on the field has not resembled entertainment.
The prospects for this season have yet to be determined, but there's not a lot of reason to think the Razorbacks are suddenly going to challenge Auburn, Alabama or LSU for the right to play in the SEC Championship game.
In fact, 6-6 and a bowl might be a much more realistic goal, but much more on that later.
For as long as can be remembered, UA athletics has been proud to be one of the 24 or 25 programs in America that don't rely on tax dollars. So there has to be some concern about future income, which probably has a lot to do with the proposal to sell beer and wine in the indoor club area, a place where seats have not been a hot commodity.
Just as there should be concern by the donors if Bobby Petrino was paid for speaking engagements he didn't fulfill because he had been fired.
Since the Razorback Foundation is not part of the university, its records are not subject to the state Freedom of Information Act. The information in Lisa Hammersly's well-written and fair story came from the foundation's IRS Form 990.
The bottom line is that ticket sales and revenue will start to climb when the Razorbacks start to win.
Which leaves us with the UALR baseball situation.
Chancellor Joel Anderson has requested a private inquiry into the Trojans baseball program after receiving emails from someone named Don Hudson and a recording of former baseball Coach Scott Norwood, who resigned June 7, going ballistic on his team.
In a world where coaches cuss -- a lot -- this was not a run-of-the-mill blue streak of profanities.
Anderson, in an attempt at total transparency, also released some of the emails Hudson sent to UALR officials and their responses. Taken as a whole, they were not too specific but had a gravel-in-the-shoe feel to them, especially considering the number of allegations, which included a player boycott back in March.
Hudson doesn't come across like a person with a vendetta as much as he does a whistle-blower who wants justice.
Sports on 06/18/2014