Razorbacks begin secret search for new AD

Updated: February 19, 2007, 1:34 AM ET
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Moments after Frank Broyles announced his retirement, talk began of who might replace him as Arkansas' athletic director.

Most people seemed to agree on one thing:

"I feel a little sorry for the next one that comes in -- to step into those shoes," football coach Houston Nutt said.

Broyles told the university's board Saturday that he will retire at the end of the year, ending a 50-year career at the school. He became the Razorbacks' football coach in December 1957 and remained in that spot through the 1976 season. He became athletic director in 1973.

Broyles' announcement even prompted a response from Arkansas native Bill Clinton.

"All Americans should be grateful for Frank's decades of dedicated service as a championship football coach and legendary athletic director with excellent programs in many men's and women's sports," Clinton said in a written statement.

"The university will miss his immense talent, unique leadership and loving devotion, but his legacy will endure as long as Razorback fans call the Hogs," the former president said.

Fayetteville campus Chancellor John White said the search for a replacement won't involve a committee. White will conduct it himself, in consultation with B. Alan Sugg, president of the university system, and Stanley Reed, chairman of the board of trustees.

White said limiting the process to a smaller group will help preserve confidentiality.

"It's very important to maintain confidentiality," White said. "Recent events demonstrate to me that maintaining the confidentiality of the process is very difficult in Arkansas when the subject is athletics."

Reports of Broyles' possible retirement began Thursday, two days before the official announcement.

Jim Lindsey, vice chairman of the board of trustees and a former Arkansas football player, said he's comfortable with the process in the hands of White, Sugg and Reed.

"With that group there, I will give my proxy," Lindsey said.

Lindsey agreed that the search needs to remain secretive, pointing out that if it becomes publicized, possible candidates might shy away since they could be criticized in their current positions for seeking other jobs.

Lindsey was, however, willing to provide the name of one candidate he hopes is a possibility -- Ken Hatfield, a former Arkansas football coach and player.

"I have a great affection for Ken Hatfield," Lindsey said. "He's a teammate, he's a magnificent person, wonderful person. He's the only person that I know right now that comes to mind."

Lindsey also responded positively when asked about Terry Don Phillips, a former Arkansas football player who has been athletic director at Oklahoma State and now Clemson. Phillips is a former associate athletic director for Arkansas.

"He's got ties here," Lindsey said. "He's one of us."

White said he's asked Broyles to remain a consultant and fundraiser for the school, and Lindsey said he expects Broyles to be brought "into the loop" during the search for a successor. Basketball coach Stan Heath said he expects Broyles will still be an important figure in Arkansas athletics.

"I'm sure coach Broyles will have a strong impact on the direction and the future of our programs here," Heath said.

White said he'll seek input from anyone who wants to offer it, but that big-money donors won't have too much clout.

"The measure of someone's influence on this decision is not ... their net worth," White said.

Nutt -- who said he has no interest in being athletic director -- said the school should be able to find a worthy replacement because of the foundation Broyles has laid. Arkansas has some of the nation's best sports facilities.

Nutt said the next athletic director should be someone similar to the last one.

"You've got to take the copy of coach Broyles," he said. "You can't replace that. You want some of the qualities -- the integrity, the communication, the people skills, a few of those things."

Right now, it's unclear whether having Arkansas ties will be a prerequisite for the job, but Nutt said it shouldn't hurt.

"I think it always helps when someone truly understands the passion of the Razorback people -- the fans, the students, the athletes," Nutt said. "I think it's real important that they really know and have the pulse of what it means to be a Razorback."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press