Long wait: UA Board meets while AD sits outside

By: Aziza Musa
Published: Friday, November 10, 2017
University of Arkansas chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, left, and athletics director Jeff Long sit inside an auditorium at Pulaski Tech during a meeting of the UA Board of Trustees on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in North Little Rock.
University of Arkansas chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, left, and athletics director Jeff Long sit inside an auditorium at Pulaski Tech during a meeting of the UA Board of Trustees on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in North Little Rock.

— When the University of Arkansas board of trustees called out its agenda for its closed meeting on personnel Thursday, one title was never mentioned: its flagship campus’ athletic director.

But after nearly an hour and a half holed up in a room, the 10-member board emerged for sustenance. University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt corralled both Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and Athletic Director Jeff Long. Bobbitt and Steinmetz joined trustees in the closed meeting — lasting almost another two hours — while Long milled about just outside of the room, never going in.

The personnel discussion came as the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-5, 1-4 SEC) are set to play against LSU (6-3, 3-2 SEC) in Baton Rouge on Saturday in the annual Battle for the Golden Boot. Long was hired to lead the athletics program 10 years ago. He replaced the late Frank Broyles, who was at the helm from 1973-2007.

Long generally does not attend board meetings unless trustees learn about or vote on athletics on the campus, such as the Reynolds Razorback Stadium north-end zone expansion and financing. He came to the meeting in North Little Rock at its planned start of 8:45 a.m. and stayed through the end of the closed meeting.

Long’s title never came up when the board announced its agenda for the closed session, and his name never appeared in public documents when the board voted on its personnel. Arkansas law requires any decisions reached in a closed personnel meeting to be voted on in public.

Trustees readjourned the meeting shortly before 12:15 p.m., taking action on their scheduled personnel matters.

It is unknown whether Long was the subject of any discussion the board had in its closed session, and trustees did not comment about the session afterward.

In a later interview, Bobbitt said “anytime we go into executive session, it’s almost always about job performance.” When asked whether the latter session was about Steinmetz’s job performance, he said, “Yeah, anytime I get holed in there, it’s about mine, and anytime anyone else does, you know, you can read what the board states as the rationale of going into executive session.”

Executive sessions are closed to the public and are for consideration of employment, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining or resignation of public officers or employees, according to state law.

Bobbitt would not comment further.

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