Razorbacks Report:

Assistants owed near $1.9 million

By: Bob Holt , Matt Jones , Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2019
An Arkansas football helmet is shown as athletics director Hunter Yurachek during the introduction of new football coach Sam Pittman on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
An Arkansas football helmet is shown as athletics director Hunter Yurachek during the introduction of new football coach Sam Pittman on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas could owe its departing staff of assistant football coaches nearly $1.9 million based on a review of their contracts.

The bulk of that money will go to defensive coordinator John Chavis, who had a year remaining on his contract, which was set to increase to $1.6 million on March 1. Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock and defensive line coach Kenny Ingram also had one year remaining on their deals.

Nine of the 10 full-time assistant football coaches at Arkansas received termination letters that were dated Dec. 5 and signed by Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette learned Tuesday through a public-records request.

The terminations for convenience, set to become effective on Jan. 15, 2020, were for Chavis, Craddock and seven full-time assistant coaches.

Interim Coach Barry Lunney Jr., who led the Razorbacks in losses at No. 1 LSU and in Little Rock against Missouri to cap the Razorbacks' 2-10 season, did not receive a termination letter. Lunney, the former Arkansas quarterback, succeeded fired head coach Chad Morris on Nov. 10. He agreed to a contract adjustment that paid him an extra $10,000 per week for the last four weeks on top of his annual salary of $365,000 for coaching tight ends and coordinating special teams.

Lunney is expected to take the offensive coordinator position at the University of Texas-San Antonio, where two-year Arkansas running backs coach Jeff Traylor was hired as head coach Monday.

The other termination letters went to offensive coaches Dustin Fry, Justin Stepp and Traylor, and defensive coaches Steve Caldwell, Ron Cooper, Kenny Ingram and Mark Smith.

The letters to the assistant coaches stated they would be reassigned to an administrative position outside the football office for the 41-day period between Dec. 5 and Jan. 15 unless they took jobs elsewhere. They also stated the coaches are "not to contact any recruits or student-athletes for any reason or engage in any recruiting activities unless otherwise directed by [Yurachek]."

Caldwell has been making recruiting visits with new head Coach Sam Pittman and Brad Davis, who is expected to be announced as the Razorbacks' offensive line coach. Caldwell is in his second stint with the Razorbacks and could be retained by Pittman.

Davis, who has coached at Missouri the past two seasons and at Florida prior to that, served as Pittman's graduate assistant at North Carolina in 2008.

The contracts for six of the assistant coaches were due to expire at the end of February. Only Chavis, Craddock and Ingram had another year remaining on their contracts.

Chavis, the highest-paid assistant coach on the former staff, is due to be paid 70% of the remaining salary on his contract, which comes to a buyout of a little more than $1.25 million. Craddock, at the end of the second year of a three-year deal worth $600,000 per year, is owed 50% of his remaining salary, which comes to about $337,000. Ingram will be owed roughly $191,250.

The other assistants have minimal buyouts pro-rated for the days between Jan. 15 and Feb. 28.

Their contracts require them to seek employment, with the salaries at their new jobs mitigating the amount owed to them by the UA.

Burks honored

Receiver Treylon Burks was voted a second-team All-SEC return specialist by the conference coaches in voting released Tuesday.

Burks, a freshman from Warren, averaged 22.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns and 10.8 yards on 12 punt returns. He had a 42-yard kickoff return against Mississippi State, and punt returns of 32 yards against Texas A&M and 26 against Kentucky.

Burks is the first Arkansas returner to earn All-SEC recognition since 2011 when Joe Adams was first-team punt returner.

Burks, who had 29 receptions for 475 yards, is also a Pro Football Focus honorable mention pick for the national All-Freshman team.

Senior linebacker De'Jon Harris earned All-SEC second-team honors from The Associated Press for the third consecutive year. He had 101 tackles this season and 371 for his career.

Offensive guard Ricky Stromberg was named to Pro Football Focus' third-team All-Freshman Team, and receiver Trey Knox was an honorable mention choice.

Next stop

Offensive lineman Silas Robinson, who played 35 snaps in six games primarily on special teams this season as a redshirt freshman, announced on his Twitter account he is transferring to Texas State.

Robinson, from Yoakum, Texas, thanked Arkansas and Chad Morris -- the former Razorbacks coach who recruited him -- in his post and wished the program the best moving forward. He said he is transferring for family health reasons.

Sports on 12/11/2019

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