LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – In a media release around 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday, University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz announced Jeff Long will no longer serve in his position effective today.
The university will honor the provisions of Long’s contract, which currently runs through June 30, 2022.
“The decision to change leadership in our Athletics Department is not an easy one, and was made after great deliberation, discussion and thought, after consultation with the Board of Trustees and President Bobbitt. Since coming to Fayetteville in 2008, Jeff has led our department with character and integrity and helped move us forward in so many ways. However, over the past year, Jeff has lost the support of many of our fans, alumni, key supporters, and members of the university leadership, support that I believe is critical in our pursuit of excellence. I want to thank Jeff for his commitment and service to our University and to the State of Arkansas and, on behalf of the Razorback Family, I want to wish Jeff and his family all of the best in the future,” said Steinmetz.
Chancellor Steinmetz has appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Senior Associate Athletics Director Julie Cromer Peoples as interim director of athletics.
Here is the full termination letter sent to former AD Jeff Long from Chancellor Joe Steinmetz. pic.twitter.com/ELog5EhBPI— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) November 15, 2017
Long replaced the legendary Frank Broyles as athletic director in 2008. Prior to coming to Arkansas, Long served as athletic director at the University of Pittsburg from 2003 to 2007. He held other administrative positions at the University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Eastern Kentucky University from 1988 to 2002
He hired Bobby Petrino in 2008 to be the head coach for the Razorbacks and then had to fire him in 2012 following an affair with a former student who was working within the football program. John L. Smith left the University of Louisville and came back to Arkansas to be the head coach and led the Hogs to a 4-8 season. The disappointing season led the university to not retain Smith as head coach and the new search began.
In December of 2012, the University of Arkansas announced they would hire Bret Bielema, the current head coach at the University of Wisconsin. Bielema had been the head coach for the Badgers since 2006. Bielema holds a record of 29-32 for the Arkansas Razorbacks and is currently 4-6 for the season.
In an SEC Media Teleconference on Wednesday at 11 a.m., several media members asked Bielema about the circulating news over Jeff Long.
"Until it’s been officially notified to me, I hear from people officially and then it’s just you know like everybody else, just gather the information until it goes. But I know this, winning ball games helps everybody, so that’s all I’m focused on. We’re trying to put ourselves in the best position ever to have a great Wednesday practice to get to Saturday," said Bielema.
Jeff Long was entering his ninth year as Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics for the Razorbacks. According to Long's bio on ArkansasRazorbacks.com, he transformed Arkansas's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics into one of the most successful and mission-driven programs in the country.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the University sent a statement from Jeff Long that thanked coaches, staff, chancellors, president Bobbitt, student-athletes and fans for the nine years he spent at the university.
A separate memo detailed the university's pay obligations to Long until the end of his contract. Long will receive regular pay through his termination date along with $90,000 in incentive pay based on achievements outlined in his contract.
Long will receive $1 million per year for the remainder of his contract through June 30, 2022. The salary will be prorated through the end of this year. Monthly installments of $83,333 will be paid until he receives $4.625 million.
His pay will be mitigated by any other compensation, meaning if he takes a job paying less than the yearly amount the university will make up the difference. They are not obligated to pay him if he receives compensation equal to or more than the current salary.
In 2015, Long was SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily Athletic Director of the Year.
He also served as the inaugural College Football Playoff selection chairman for the 2014 and 2015 seasons and will remain a member of the selection committee through 2017.
CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock issued a statement:
"In consultation with the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, the College Football Playoff management committee today voted unanimously to ask Jeff Long, the former Director of Athletics for the University of Arkansas, to continue his service as a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Mr. Long has accepted the invitation and he will serve for the remainder of this season."
In Long's tenure, Arkansas won 29 conference championships and advanced to 123 post-season competitions.
According to the release from the University, Peoples brings extensive experience to the interim director of Athletics role. She came to Arkansas in 2014, after successful tenures at Indiana University and the NCAA. Among other duties, as a member of the department’s executive leadership team, Peoples directs the sports administrator group responsible for day-to-day administration of 19 varsity sports and serves as liaison to the Southeastern Conference. She has been recognized for her outstanding work at both the institutional and national levels. A native of the region, Peoples holds a master’s degree from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University.
The university will identify and announce members of a search committee, representative of the university, to assist Chancellor Steinmetz in the search for a new vice chancellor and director of athletics.
Stay with THV11 and thv11.com for more details as they become available.