Like It Is:

Diverse board's impactful decision coming

By: Wally Hall
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Fans walk into War Memorial Stadium for the Arkansas Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.
Fans walk into War Memorial Stadium for the Arkansas Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.

In two weeks the University of Arkansas board of trustees will meet with an agenda that includes a gag order for themselves and probably the future of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville games in Little Rock.

Yes, these 10 successful and mostly approachable people, who have the final say in decisions concerning all of the University of Arkansas System, will decide whether or not to lock their lips and throw away the key.

Those educated people all have have at least one degree associated with one or more of the numerous UA campuses they are responsible for. There is a strong mix on the board of those appointed by former Governor Mike Beebe and current governor Asa Hutchinson.

Both good governors.

The BOT, as they are commonly known, currently consists of nine men and one lady who serve 10-year terms unless appointed to fulfill someone's spot who resigned early. They represent most of the state.

The make-up is interesting. There are five attorneys, one doctor, three businessmen and the highly respected David Pryor, a former Arkansas governor and U.S. Congressman.

Pryor and Cliff Gibson were the only members to vote against the costly football stadium expansion -- and that's to use the term loosely because it adds just a little more than 3,000 seats -- because it didn't benefit the students.

Pryor does have a law degree from the UA but he has served in other ways.

Two of the board members were high-profile athletes at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Tommy Boyer was an all-conference basketball player for the Razorbacks and was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. Boyer was a richly successful businessman and is in the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. He lives in Fayetteville.

Steve Cox, the newest appointee, was an all-conference punter for the Razorbacks who went on to play eight years in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl ring in Super Bowl XXII. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He's a successful businessman and good guy and lives in Jonesboro.

The chairman is Mark Waldrip, an ultra-successful farmer from Moro.

Obviously it is a fairly diverse group of members who showed a lot of courage when they voted to fire Athletic Director and Associate Chancellor Jeff Long last year and then agreed to terminate head football coach Bret Bielema. Both terminations were very expensive because of contracts that were far too lucrative for the results achieved.

While they don't just pay lip service to UAPB, UAM, UALR, UAMS, UA-Fort Smith or any of the other campuses, most of their attention is focused on the mothership in Fayetteville.

Most likely the majority of the attention is not on athletics, but academics, and that's the way it should be, but in Arkansas, athletics is always on a lot of people's radar.

This group is likely to make headlines, statewide and perhaps nationally, in two weeks when it meets. The last time there was not a Hog game in Little Rock was 1931.

Since Razorback Stadium became Reynolds Razorback Stadium (thanks to a huge donation from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation) in 1999, there has been a great stadium debate. That expansion saw the Hogs games in War Memorial reduced to two and it has shrunk to one. The contract for that game is up June 30.

UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek will make a recommendation about future games in WMS, but the board of trustees will make the final decision.

Sports on 05/09/2018

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