Jeff Long's final days: A fan lifts his spirits | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 17, 2017

Jeff Long's final days: A fan lifts his spirits

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 8:13 AM

click to enlarge JEFF LONG: In finals days, he gets a lift from an admirer.
  • JEFF LONG: In finals days, he gets a lift from an admirer.
The University of Arkansas last night responded to my requests for some further information about Jeff Long's removal as athletic director, partly on financial arrangements and partly on communications between Long and Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz in the last couple of weeks before his firing Wednesday.

* FINANCIAL: Spokesman Mark Rushing confirmed, as I'd indicated was likely, that the Razorback Foundation is expected to be the source of the $4.6 million the UA might have to pay to satisfy Long's contract. The payments will be $88,000 a month for almost five years, but could be "mitigated" by Long's future employment elsewhere. But the payment is a "contractual obligation" of the University, he said.

* COMMUNICATIONS: I'd requested any texts and emails between Long and Steinmetz for the two weeks preceding his termination. By the time of the UA Board meeting last week, I'd already reported that Long's job was in peril because of unhappiness on the part of trustees. At the closed meeting, trustees made those thoughts clear to Steinmetz. He responded six days later by firing Long.

The communications by written messsage were limited (by now, UA officials are very familiar with the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.) But they included this, about 24 hours before the UA Board was to meet on Long's future:

screen_shot_2017-11-17_at_7.51.26_am.png

This note came with text of a letter to Long from an admirer and Razorback fan, a college teacher in Oklahoma who wanted to send Long an "attaboy" for his good work. It sympathized with Long for facing fan unhappiness over football coach Bret Bielema, though it would turn out that Bielema's performance would spell Long's end first. An excerpt:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-11-17_at_7.57.23_am.png

The writer concluded:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-11-17_at_8.00.11_am.png

The material given me included no response to Long from Steinmetz on the fan's letter.

Business continued after the UA Board meeting last week. Long sent notes to Steinmetz and others relative to a pre-taped segment on Cole Kelley for a Sunday Razorback football show that, inconveniently, followed the quarterback's arrest Sunday morning for DWI; a headsup on a coming story about his presentation to state officials on improvements needed at War Memorial Stadium to meet SEC standards, and texts with the content of the release detailing his departure. Long apparently was out of town Monday and returned Tuesday as news was breaking, ahead of the official release. The final communication between Long and university oficials, in this case Laura Jacobs, Steinmetz's chief of staff:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-11-17_at_8.04.57_am.png


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