After 47 years, DeBriyn's Razorback run comes to an end

By: Matt Jones
Published: Monday, February 6, 2017
Former Arkansas baseball coach Norm DeBriyn, (center) visits with friends Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, during a reception to honor DeBriyn's retirement from the Razorback Foundation. DeBriyn coached the Diamond Hogs from 1970 to 2002, and has worked at the Razorback Foundation since. More than 100 people came to congratulate DeBriyn and wish him well on his retirement.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Former Arkansas baseball coach Norm DeBriyn, (center) visits with friends Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, during a reception to honor DeBriyn's retirement from the Razorback Foundation. DeBriyn coached the Diamond Hogs from 1970 to 2002, and has worked at the Razorback Foundation since. More than 100 people came to congratulate DeBriyn and wish him well on his retirement.

— Nearly five decades after arriving in Fayetteville, Norm DeBriyn worked his final day with the Razorbacks on Monday.

DeBriyn, the hall of fame baseball coach who holds the Arkansas record for seasons coached (33), conference championships (3) and wins (1,161), retired from the Razorback Foundation, the athletics department's private fundraising arm where he had been an executive since his retirement from baseball in 2002.

DeBriyn, 74, rose to the No. 2 position within the foundation and was interim executive director for a short time in 2015. More than 100 people attended a retirement party for him Monday afternoon at the Fowler Center.

"This has been in the works for maybe a year or so," DeBriyn said. "Everything is good, but it's just time. With my age and all the technology and all the social media, and all the stuff that is over my head, they can find someone who is younger and more efficient."

DeBriyn wasn't Arkansas' first choice to become baseball coach in the fall of 1969. Then-athletics director George Cole offered the job to Bob Slusarek, a former pro player who accepted but later reneged, which opened the door for DeBriyn to take the job.

DeBriyn already was working at the University of Arkansas as a teacher. He kept that job for his first several years coaching until he became a full-time employee of the athletics department in 1976.

His starting salary as the Razorbacks' coach was $9,000 per year, $7,000 of which was contributed from his job as a teacher.

"After I got the baseball job my time was two-thirds college of education and one-third athletics department," DeBriyn said. "I was still teaching a full load of classes...close to 20 hours a week. I'd get done about 2 o'clock or 2:30 and then coach baseball the rest of the day.

"We were at TCU in Fort Worth and I got a phone call from Lon Ferrell, the administrative assistant, and he said, "Frank Broyles wants to know if you want to go full-time athletics department.' I was like, 'Yeah! Hallelujah!'"

After devoting all of his time to coaching, DeBriyn built Arkansas into a winner. He took the Razorbacks to four College World Series and finished national runner-up in 1979. His success and relationships within the community were integral in Arkansas building Baum Stadium in 1996.

"When I got the job, I was handed an envelope that had the entire program in it - my budget, our schedule, our scholarship, everything," DeBriyn said. "Gradually through facilities and more money in the budget and more scholarships, things got better."

DeBriyn was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Church in 2012 and said he will spend his days working at his parish, St. Thomas Aquinas in Fayetteville.

"I have an office now and just got a new desk and a new chair," DeBriyn said.

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