Arkansas hires Pitt's Long as next AD

Updated: September 11, 2007, 7:52 PM ET
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- When Jeff Long was born, Frank Broyles had already been at Arkansas almost two years.

Needless to say, Long has a tough act to follow as the Razorbacks' new athletic director.

"I will never try to replace Frank Broyles," Long said after being introduced at a news conference Tuesday. "I'm honored to be offered this position of leadership that he has held, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to do so."

Long, Pittsburgh's AD since 2003, emerged recently as a top candidate to replace Broyles, who retires at the end of the year after a half-century with the Razorbacks. Long's hiring became official Tuesday.

Broyles started at Arkansas in 1957 when he was hired as football coach, and coached the Razorbacks until 1977, when Lou Holtz took over.

Chancellor John White said Long would serve as an adviser before taking over Jan. 1. Long will be paid a base salary of $450,000, with incentives for athletic and academic achievements.

"It is a daunting task," Long said of replacing Broyles. "But I am excited and here, and I'm excited to get started."

Donna Sanft will be the interim AD at Pitt as the school searches for Long's successor. Sanft was the gymnastics coach at Pitt for 12 years (1974-86) and has been an athletic department administrator since.

White said he received assistance from a search firm while looking for a replacement, and he said the school sought input from "dozens of respected individuals in college athletics."

Long, who turns 48 next week, thanked Broyles for his support and said he looked forward to his counsel in the future. The outgoing AD is expected to help with university fundraising.

Broyles was at Tuesday's news conference to help introduce Long.

"I wish you and all of your family the same charmed life that I have had," Broyles said. "You are definitely, definitely, definitely in the right place for that to happen."

At Pittsburgh, Long's most prominent hire was football coach Dave Wannstedt, who is in his third season. The Panthers haven't been to a bowl game since Wannstedt's arrival.

Long had previously served as associate AD at Oklahoma, and before that was the AD at Eastern Kentucky. He has also been an associate AD at Virginia Tech and Michigan.

"I always cringe when they read off my resume," Long said. "I sit there and think, 'Well, they think I'm really good, or he can't hold a job.'"

Long said he has some work to finish at Pitt, but he hopes to be settled in at Arkansas around the end of next month. After the news conference, he asked for some copies of Hogs Illustrated, a magazine that focuses on Razorbacks athletics.

Long appears to have few ties to Arkansas, which could mean quite a transition for the Razorbacks after Broyles' lengthy tenure.

"I had just a short time to meet with him for the first time today," Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt said. "The thing about athletics, there's always change and as a coach, change sometimes is hard, just like players have changes. He seems like a great guy, and I'm looking forward to getting to know him more and a little bit better as time goes on."

The Razorbacks joined the Southeastern Conference in 1991, and although they have never won an SEC football title, Arkansas won a national championship in basketball in 1994 and is a national powerhouse in track and field.

The Razorbacks also have state-of-the-art facilities at their Fayetteville campus, not only in football and basketball but also less-prominent sports like baseball and track.

And with no major pro teams in the state, there's never any concern over fan loyalty.

"I look at it in terms of ... knowing that from every corner of the state, there are Razorbacks fans," Long said.

Arkansas has not been without controversy lately. Nutt came under fire after the departure of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and a pair of top freshmen. Also, basketball coach Stan Heath was fired this year, and Broyles was heavily involved in the search for a replacement.

The school introduced Dana Altman as the new hire, then Altman changed his mind and went back to Creighton. It took another week for Arkansas to find a new coach in John Pelphrey.

But on this day, Long was optimistic about what the Razorbacks can accomplish in the near future.

"Coach Broyles said it best when he told me in a phone conversation," Long said. "He said, 'Jeff, the job is never finished.'"

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press