Broyles' hires started upticks in other sports

By: Bob Holt
Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Arkansas baseball coach Norm DeBriyn, left, shakes hands with athletics director Frank Broyles after DeBriyn announced his retirement Tuesday, May 6, 2002, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Aaron Skinner
Arkansas baseball coach Norm DeBriyn, left, shakes hands with athletics director Frank Broyles after DeBriyn announced his retirement Tuesday, May 6, 2002, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Norm DeBriyn was hired as a physical education instructor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the fall of 1969.

That was the same year the No. 2 Razorbacks’ football team played in “The Big Shootout” against No. 1 Texas.

“There was one sport here it looked like,” DeBriyn said. “Football was big time.”

More sports became big time when Frank Broyles, the Razorbacks’ football coach from 1958-1976, became athletic director in 1973.

“Under Frank Broyles the golf program, the track program, the baseball program, the tennis program, everything grew and was built up,” said DeBriyn, who added being Arkansas’ baseball coach to his teaching duties in 1970. “He gave you the resources to get it done.”

DeBriyn and John McDonnell, who led Arkansas’ cross country and track and field teams, were among the coaches who turned their programs into national powerhouses with Broyles’ support.

“Everything that Coach Broyles touched, he made it good,” said McDonnell, whose teams won 40 national championships and 84 conference titles between 1972 and 2008. “He was a winner at heart and he loved every sport that won.

“If he decided he was going to do something, he gave 100 percent to it.”

McDonnell said he enjoyed working for Broyles.

“He was tough, but he was fair,” McDonnell said. “He gave you a good salary and a good budget to work with, but then he expected results, too. He wanted a return on his investment.”

Broyles died Monday at the age of 92.

“It’s a sad day,” McDonnell said. “It’s just hard to imagine the university and the state of Arkansas without Frank Broyles.

“I have nothing but great respect for the man.”

DeBriyn, who led Arkansas to College World Series appearances in 1979, 1985, 1987 and 1989, said he appreciated Broyles making him a full-time athletic department employee in 1977 and then adding him to the Razorback Foundation staff when he retired from coaching after the 2002 season.

“It’s just hard to measure the impact Frank Broyles has had for the state of Arkansas,” DeBriyn said. “It’s been so huge.”

DeBriyn credited Broyles with being a visionary, whether it was leading Arkansas from the Southwest Conference to the SEC or making sure Baum Stadium had large concourses for the fans.

“I remember Coach Broyles telling me how he envisioned building Baum Stadium,” DeBriyn said. “When you walked onto the concourse level, he wanted open viewing for the fans. That was all his idea.

“Coach Broyles just kept pushing forward and improving facilities for all the sports.”

Broyles attended Arkansas’ first SEC championship competition when the Razorbacks won the cross country title in Athens, Ga., in 1991.

“He called the Hogs with us,” McDonnell said. “He loved winning.”

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