Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Send-offs say plenty about Broyles, Lewis
Frank Broyles, surrounded by his family, calls the hogs to close the evening during the 'Coach's Quarter: A Celebration of Coach Broyles' Life and Career' banquet at the John Q Hammons Center in Rogers on Saturday, June 7, 2014.
FAYETTEVILLE — Today, for the first time, the Broyles Center will be totally without Frank Broyles and the Bev Lewis Center will totally be without Bev Lewis.
Broyles, either Arkansas’ head football coach or athletic director and for four years both from 1958-2007 and who has been the UA’s athletic director emeritus since 2008, and Lewis, since 1981 either the Lady Razorbacks’ track coach, Lady Razorbacks athletic director who has been executive associate athletic director since 2008, after the Lady Razorbacks name was expunged and the program merged with the men’s program, retired completely from the UA this past week.
Broyles’ major retirement ceremonies were conducted three weekends ago with fund-raisers benefiting the Caregivers United, the Alzheimer’s caregivers association of which Broyles and his daughter Betsy Broyles Arnold are founders.
Broyles, along with his longtime secretary Donita Ritchie, who is also retiring, got a retirement encore Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with an informal drop-in at the Razorback Foundation.
The UA’s public invitation enabled the everyman and average Joes the same access they formerly had to UA athletics when Broyles presided. It allowed all to wish him well.
At midmorning, it can be vouched that traffic was brisk.
UA Chancellor Dave Gearhart and a number of greats of Razorbacks past — including Loyd Phillips, Terry Don Phillips, and Harold Horton, who had played or coached for Broyles — dropped by, plus a lot of diehard fans. Their faces might not be known but their voices have been heard and their money and emotions spent through countless years of countless Razorbacks games.
It was nice to see Donita, always cheerfully cutting through red tape like a knife through butter to keep Broyles in contact with those needing his attention, to be wished well just as warmly as her boss.
The Razorback Foundation, rather than the Broyles Center, has been Broyles’ office space since he retired as AD in 2008.
It was a good move.
Coaches left the Broyles Center when Razorbacks football abandoned it for the newly built Fred Smith Football Center.
Broyles, whether administrating, fund-raising or doing commentary on ABC college football games, Frank Broyles was first and foremost a coach.
Lewis was honored during a ceremony Thursday at the Bev Lewis Center, and Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long spoke of Lewis’ valuable administrative input from her nine years head coaching and her selflessness in transitioning the merger of the women’s program with the men.
“I think it was the smoothest transition in the history of the NCAA in merging two programs into one,” Long said. “If you give credit to one person, it’s to Bev Lewis and the way she supported me and the entire staff of men’s and women’s coaches.”
Gearhart, women’s golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor and gymnastics coach Mark Cook all spoke Thursday, with Gearhart describing Lewis as “the ultimate team player.”
Some 15 of Lewis’ former track athletes scrambled from various locales to attend.
“It was very nice on short notice that they would come just for a reception,” Lewis said. “I am very appreciative.”