Every time a personal vow is taken to not write about the former University of Arkansas athletic director, something else happens.
Hunter Yurachek inherited an awful financial situation from his predecessor.
Recently, the Razorback Foundation requested a love offering from donors.
Days later, there was a request from the athletic department to the board of trustees for a $19.1 million loan to pay debt on loans secured prior to Yurachek’s arrival.
The board had to approve the loan because most trustees approved the $160 million expansion of Reynolds Razorback Stadium, which amounted to 3,200 seats for the wealthy who want to sit in the end zone.
So the UA athletic department borrowed more money to take care of the previous bond debt.
This does not sound like a win-win. It sounds like a lifeline, but if 2020 will take covid-19 with it, things will improve.
When the former athletic director was fired, the UA athletic department was in debt for those building bonds.
When Texas expanded its stadium, its AD raised the money in a week and the Longhorns paid cash.
Arkansas’ former AD couldn’t raise money from people whom he didn’t understand, but he apparently didn’t care.
When Bobby Petrino was fired, it was discovered the football coach answered to two assistant ADs before he could get to the man at the top.
There were at least four layers between him and donors.
One person on the board of trustees realized what was going on.
He began an investigation into the workings of the former AD. Even when he had the votes to get him fired, there was kickback from the administration.
Trustees are instructed to care about all aspects of all the UA System schools, and to keep their hands off the biggest cash cow of most schools until they are needed.
In 1998 when Arkansas beat defending national champion Tennessee 28-24, the UA had a record number of student applications the next week. Not all came, but it illustrated just how important a football program can be to a university.
The board of trustees should see athletics at all the UA System schools as a big part of their job.
If they are going to approve a $19.1 million loan for the athletic department, they need to be involved in all aspects of the program.
They owe that to the people of Arkansas, especially the Razorback Nation.
The board is appointed by the governor, so there are Democrats and Republicans alike. Maybe that explains why this reporter has been told most decisions end up four for and four against, with two swing votes.
Political affiliations need to be checked at the front door, long before trustees enter a meeting room.
They have some culpability in the current Razorback athletic debt because of the 8-2 expansion vote, which was going to need a bond issue (the former AD initially went with a bank from out of state), with only former trustee David Pryor and Cliff Gibson voted against.
Athletic departments all over the country are being financially cornered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Millions of dollars are going to be lost this football season even if a program plays.
The biggest problem for the Razorbacks started in 2015 when the former AD had a vision to grow after an 8-5 season, and he wasn’t told no.
When work started, all pictures and memorabilia of teams and players from the Southwest Conference days were given away.
That’s how little he cared about Arkansas and its history.
Five years later, the Razorbacks are paying for his folly. The virus has only deepened the debt.