UPDATE: David Goins, with Fox 16, has more.
The University of Arkansas Athletic Department announced today that its new R.S.V.P. plan — in which everyone pays a new higher premium for choice seats to football home games in Little Rock and Fayetteville — had raised an additional $6.5 million for athletics.
Full release on the jump.
Please note the acknowledgment of use of University public employees in the ticket sales effort. Doesn't that mean Razorback Foundation revenues and expenditures should be open to public inspection? I think it does. I don't think my view is widely shared in Hogdom, however. What, exactly, is wrong with transparency in this spending, by the way?
John Brummett reviews Hendrix College president Tim Cloyd's case for adding non-scholarship football as an enrollment builder. He doesn't scoff, but says it's unlikely to draw him to a sideline lawn chair in Conway over staying in his recliner for high-def D-I football on his big screen at home. He comments in the interest of provocation:
It is a basic truth, one of inverse proportionality: The less progressive and enlightened a place, the higher the salary of the university football coach and the better the team.
I wrote on the earlier Hendrix footbal thread that, for better or worse, I'm an illustration of Cloyd's point. I chose a small liberal arts college over an academic scholarship to LSU mostly because of the opportunity to play Division III sports. I have plenty of regrets about my college years, but not the school choice.
Football had been in the works for some time, though delayed. Many alums of the school griped about the decision. Today, the school announced formation of a new conference in which Hendrix will play. It is to begin competition in 2012-13, but Hendrix won't play football until fall 2013.
The conference of Division III teams (no scholarships) will include the likes of Rhodes, Sewanee, Millsaps and Centre. (Too bad Richard Allin is no longer around to chronicle the historic Sewanee Tiger-Hendrix Warrior battle.) Football has long been defended by Hendrix President Tim Cloyd as an enrollment builder. Hendrix also will be adding women's lacrosse, with games to begin in spring 2014. In a letter to Hendrix supporters, Cloyd wrote:
Why did the Board of Trustees decide to do this? Many outstanding high school students simply won’t consider attending a college that doesn’t offer football. As Hendrix College continues to grow and broaden its academic programs, we do not want to miss the opportunity to bring these great students to Hendrix and enrich the experience of all Hendrix students. We are excited about adding new sports to the lineup, but remain committed to supporting our existing athletics programs. All our student athletes are important; we will not allow one sport to overshadow others.
From a Q&A referring to the year Hendrix ended football:
Q. What will you do with all those “Undefeated since 1961” T-shirts in the bookstore?
A. They are sure to become collectors’ items; get yours now before the price escalates!
The news release:
A highlight from a recent soccer game between Bryant and Conway High Schools has gone viral. The cliip had over 300,000 hits on YouTube yesterday and has amassed well over 700,000 as I type this. Bryant players faked running into each other on a free kick and used Conway's confusion to score a goal. The play has sparked debate in some soccer circles over whether it was clever or just plain dirty. I'm not a big soccer guy, so I don't know all the unwritten rules. Seems to me it's the former. Yahoo Sports agrees.
I understand the debate about the play, but we've been seeing misdirection and bizarre plays in high school football for years now. From trying to bring on a player at the last second to pretending to call a timeout and then throwing it down the field, plays like this are nothing new. If anything, Bryant should be commended for using its imagination and coming up with such an ingenious play that resulted in a goal.
Why does sports news often seem to sound more like the police blotter?
DRUGS: Sports talk shows were buzzing this morning with news that former Hog quarterback Ryan Mallett, hoping for an NFL draft bonanza, has been telling NFL teams that he has "used drugs" in the past. This is seen as a come-clean move to deal with negative buzz about Mallett earlier and is seen by many as a positive PR step.
Here's a typical take from the sports blog world. Count me among those less than shocked if a 20-something college student confessed to smoking marijuana. Or drank a beer before reaching the age of 21, also a legal offense. I confess to both.
BUT NOW THERE'S THIS: Mallett reportedly canceled a recent meeting with one NFL team claiming to be sick, though he'd been seen out on the town late the night before.
PISTOL WHIPPING: Less a laughing matter is the news that former Hog basketball player Oliver Miller was arrested for pistol whipping another man at a Maryland barbecue. A 9-mm Glock was believed used in the attack. He faces a string of charges.
I'm sorry to say I had a conflict and couldn't watch the Frontline Tuesday night on high school football that prominently featured a couple of private school football powerhouses in Arkansas, Shiloh Christian and Pulaski Academy. I believe you can still watch it on-line here.
I'd be interested in reviews.
UPDATE: A comment follows from a follower of Arkansas high school sports.
The state Education Department plans a public discussion April 11 on proposed revisions in rules governing school district athletic spending.
Here's a draft of the proposal that has been sent to interested groups. Spokesman Seth Blomeley cautions that it is subject to change. Eventually, the state Board of Education will put a final draft out for discussion before adoption.
The first discussion will follow the state Board meeting April 11 at the department auditorium on the capitol mall. Interested people are invited to attend and comment. It's all about getting an accurate assessment of the amount spent on sports.
A lot of people thought this was an April Fool's Day prank. But it's not. The UCA website plays it straight — a purple-and-gray striped artificial turf is in store in 2011 for the Bears. It will save water, paint and maintenance, the school says.
Tivo alert: The fabulously successful Shiloh Christian football team is going to get national coverage April 12 in an installment of Frontline, the PBS investigative series. It could be uncomfortable:
High school football has never had a higher profile, with nationally-televised games, corporate sponsorships and minute-by-minute coverage on sports websites. In northwest Arkansas, FRONTLINE examines one ambitious high school team working its way towards national renown. With a superstar quarterback at the helm, tiny Shiloh Christian is striving to join the ranks of the country's best high school teams — teams whose workout schedules, practices and styles of play increasingly imitate the pros. But as high school players grow bigger, faster and stronger, there are growing concerns about the health and safety of these young players — with rising rates of concussions, career-ending injuries, even death. In Arkansas, FRONTLINE documents a tragic story of heat-stroke injuries that reveal how weak regulation has created a crucial lack of athletic trainers at most high schools. It all raises a critical question: Has the amped-up culture of high school football outrun necessary protections for the boys who play the game?
Or so claims 40/29 TV, quoting an unnamed but "direct" Hog sources. Anderson — if you're from Neptune — is coaching at Missouri and once was an Arkansas assistant.
KFSM says the Razorback Foundation board has approved a contract for Anderson. And, as we know, the Razorback Foundation, runs the athletic department in secret as if it were a private corporation. They'll allow Jeff Long to release the news when appropriate.
... hell, I don't know. But this Kansas City Star report on the is-it-or-is-it-not-Mike-Anderson story is a pretty good roundup of the craziness over a leader for a bunch of kids who jump around in short pants. $2 million a year is the price quote.
It's a business, as any sports fan knows. The news release doesn't mention buyout terms, but Twitter feeds say he'll get his $1.8 million at $50,000 per month for three years, unless hired elsewhere. Athletic Director Jeff Long's boilerplate:
After a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of our men's basketball program, including an assessment of the overall student-athlete experience within our program, it is clear that we have not made the progress over the last four years that is necessary to return Razorback Basketball to a place of national relevance." Long said. "As a program, our initial goals are to challenge for Southeastern Conference championships, compete in the NCAA Tournament and support our student-athletes in the pursuit of a degree. Our program's tradition demonstrates those goals are certainly attainable at the University of Arkansas.
"I want to thank John and his staff for their hard work and dedication to the Razorback program. I am appreciative of their efforts on behalf of the University of Arkansas."
There's a 6 p.m. news conference; TV will go live, undoubtedly (7 for sure). Mike Anderson and Marquette's Buzz Williams are getting mentions.
40/29 asks Hog coach John Pelphrey about a report that his time is up as UA basketball coach:
40/29: "Will you be back next season?"
Pelphrey: "I respect you are doing your job and working, but so am I. I am only saying I'm working right now."
40/29: "Have you met with Jeff Long yet?"
Pelphrey: "I am working right now."
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