Favorite

Surprise: Money talks 

I gave up sports writing for politics during my senior year in college, but you can’t beat Razorback athletics for good political stories. And there are few better politicians than University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles. He’s smart, personable, a money magnet, ruthless if need be and a master vote counter.

A succession of administrators at the University of Arkansas has chafed at Broyles’ privileged place in the hierarchy. But, at best, they’ve been able to do little more than work around him on rare occasions.

Broyles, 82, has always survived, most notably when a run was made at forcibly retiring him after he angered Central Arkansas Hog fans and the wealthy Stephens family by spurning an idea to expand War Memorial Stadium. Broyles favored moving all Hog games to Fayetteville, on campus and closer to the increasingly important booster base in Washington and Benton County.

Last week, the string ran out. Broyles, seemingly out of the blue but for the Arkansas Times Blog’s early leak, announced Saturday his retirement at the end of this year, when he’ll complete 50 years at the UA. He’s still an impressive figure, but his judgment has failed him recently, particularly in botched interventions in the notorious Springdale fiasco. Whatever his participation in the effort to hire a successful Springdale high school coach and recruit some of the coach’s stars, it came to grief on his watch with the unhappy departure of Coach Gus Malzahn and a couple of those heralded players.

The Springdale fiasco had significance off the field. Important people, including high officials of big companies with long records of Hog financial support, were sorely unhappy at the treatment of Malzahn and his young men. This reflected not only their shared hometown, but a shared background in the private school, Shiloh Christian, or its sponsoring church, First Baptist of Springdale. They are potent politically in the region.

In short, while Frank Broyles has always had critics, he probably never had so many at one time with so much money and clout. Even Jim Lindsey, the real-estate magnate and former Hog great, no longer had the pull to turn away a UA Board of Trustees majority that was anxious for Chancellor John White to defuse unrest at Fayetteville by making a change.

Broyles could count the votes. Though he’d often vowed to match Amos Alonzo Stagg by working into his 90s, he announced his retirement and slipped away. He left the meeting before reporters could ask him the pregnant question: Why now? The football reporters knew the rules of sports writing etiquette. They didn’t press the question too hard with those, such as football coach Houston Nutt, who stayed after the announcement to pay tribute to the old coach.

The other pregnant question is whether this announcement will quell fan unrest in the short term. Football coach Nutt — and his wife, by circulating an ugly e-mail about Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain — contributed immensely to the unhappiness in the Springdale crowd. He’s still coach. Broyles, for that matter, is still athletic director, a living monument amid the physical temples he’s built to Arkansas sports.

So what’s changed? Important stuff. Chancellor John White soon and at last will be in charge of the athletic director. Houston Nutt will lose his protector, Broyles. The week’s events also illustrated the diminished power of another Nutt protector Jim Lindsey. All of which means this story is not over.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • And I quote: "Sounds like maybe some of those descriptors hit a little close to…

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Hey Bishop, when did God say "Grab them by the pussy?"

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Well said. I believe that male mentors are another key way to connect our local…

    • on July 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation