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Peterson resigns as UAPB athletic director after 13 months

by I.C. Murrell | February 16, 2021 at 3:35 a.m.
UAPB athletic director Chris Peterson speaks to the crowd during a press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Pine Bluff. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Chris Peterson has retired as vice chancellor and athletic director at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a role he has held for the past 13 months.

The university announced Peterson's retirement, which took effect Monday. Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director Chris Robinson has been promoted to replace Peterson in the interim beginning today.

A search will be conducted for the permanent role, the university announced.

"It has been my privilege to serve as Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics," Peterson said. "I would like to sincerely thank [University of Arkansas System Board] Trustee [Stephen] Broughton, [UA System] President [Donald] Bobbitt, and Chancellor [Laurence B.] Alexander for the opportunity this past year to be part of the Golden Lions family. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the opportunity for me to interact with the coaches and the student-athletes in the manner I have been accustomed to has had its limitations, which has been disappointing personally. During my career in college athletics and the moves that come with the profession, there are 'friends of the road' and 'friends of the heart' that you acquire over the years. I am happy to say there are some true 'friends of the heart' at UAPB and in the city of Pine Bluff."

Peterson, a former athletic director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was hired at UAPB two months before covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Once the pandemic hit, conference basketball tournaments and all spring sports were halted for the season out of caution.

Peterson's most notable staff move while in Pine Bluff was promoting assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Doc Gamble to head coach in April. The pandemic led the Southwestern Athletic Conference to postpone its football season from the fall to this semester; UAPB will kick off a six-game schedule Feb. 27 at home against Texas Southern.

Alexander said he expressed his gratitude to Peterson for his leadership in the past year.

"He started just as we all were learning about the coronavirus pandemic, but he worked diligently to advance the department and to support the health and well-being of our student athletes during one of our most difficult periods in history," Alexander said of Peterson. "The Golden Lion Nation is strong, and I appreciate the continued support of our students, employees, alumni and friends as we strive to reach our ultimate goal of achieving student success in both athletics and scholarship."

This will be Robinson's second time to serve as interim athletic director. The former UAPB quarterback rejoined the program in 1993 when it was rebooted from a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics death penalty at the end of the 1990 season, after starting his career there and then transferring to Southern University.

Robinson turned in one of the greatest football performances in Golden Lions history when threw for six touchdowns and rushed for another in a 60-53 overtime victory over Western Montana College (now the University of Montana-Western) in an NAIA semifinal at UAPB's old Pumphrey Stadium. UAPB lost the national championship game the next week to Northeastern State of Oklahoma, 13-12.

Robinson coached quarterbacks and running backs and also served as assistant softball coach and director of minority affairs at Mid-America Nazarene University in Kansas, before returning to UAPB as an assistant coach. He earned his bachelor's degree in management from UAPB and a master's in business administration from Mid-America, and he was inducted to the UAPB Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

At UAPB, Robinson served as interim athletic director for a year and director of the office of recruitment for six years before moving into athletics administration in January 2020.

He is married to Lady Lions two-time All-American 4x400 relay runner Kim "George" Robinson and has three children: UAPB wide receivers Christopher and Kylan, and daughter Kaylen.

Chris Peterson
Chris Peterson
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