Razorbacks' interim AD discusses 'command'

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017
Arkansas interim athletics director Julie Cromer Peoples speaks to the media during a press conference Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas interim athletics director Julie Cromer Peoples speaks to the media during a press conference Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Julie Cromer Peoples said her charge as interim athletic director for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is to keep the positive momentum of the department moving forward.

How that relates to the state of the football program, which is 4-6 entering today's 11 a.m. game against Mississippi State at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, or a decision about the future of football games in Little Rock is up in the air.

Peoples, who has served as the sports administrator in football the past two seasons, said she's received support from Coach Bret Bielema since her appointment by Chancellor Joe Steinmetz on Wednesday after the dismissal of Jeff Long.

"I don't think anyone would disagree it's been a tough season for us," Peoples said. "What I am encouraged by is the opportunity to spend time around this team and around this coaching staff.

Julie Cromer Peoples on football, War Memorial and Jeff Long

(By Blake Sutton)
[View Full-Size]

"I've had the time to be out at practice even this week, and I will tell you we have 120 guys on the roster and we have a building full of coaches and staff members who are working hard and are focused on Saturday and focused on winning the game. That's actually indicative of where they've been throughout the season."

Peoples, 46, was asked whether she has been given the authority to make personnel decisions in her interim capacity.

"The chain of command is the chain of command, right?" she said. "So the athletic director makes important decisions in consultation with the chancellor. The chancellor reports to a president, who then reports to the board.

"I think all of us would like all of those bodies to be aligned regardless of who specifically is making the specific decision along the chain. That being said, I do understand the question and there are a lot of people who are weighing in about the decisions that they believe are pending. Right now, we have a football coach and we have a game tomorrow and we're looking forward to playing it."

The future of games in Little Rock, which Long said he hoped would be made during the course of the current football season, is ongoing between herself and Steinmetz, she said.

"He and I will continue to evaluate our long-term relationship with War Memorial," she said. "I do know that we intend to play an SEC game there next season as we're contracted to do, and I think we're working toward a determination of that game. I hope that we're able to make a decision on that fairly quickly."

Peoples said she has not given much thought to vying for the permanent position.

"There's an old phrase in volleyball that's called 'bettering the ball.' That is, the ball comes to you, you pass, dig, set the spike and you give a better ball for the next person to hit, so no matter who that person is, I'd like to better the ball for the next athletic director."

A media member asked Peoples -- whose father's family is from Howell County, Mo., on the Arkansas border -- what she'd want people to know about her.

"I have just been overwhelmed and so proud to step into and be part of the Razorback Nation," she said. "It is one of the reasons I wanted to come here, quite candidly. There is no place like the University of Arkansas.

"My father's family is from southern Missouri, and they're scattered across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. At a very young age, actually, I learned to call the Hogs. The opportunity to come back and be a part of that as an adult was irresistible."

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