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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Steinmetz's departure about 4 years too late

by Wally Hall | June 23, 2021 at 2:29 a.m.

Several times a day, my iPad is checked for breaking news or updated stories.

On Thursday, that's how it was learned that chancellor Joe Steinmetz basically had been told he had 24 hours to clean out his office and be gone from the University of Arkansas.

That leads one to believe that whatever happened was serious. The world of academia doesn't move that fast.

It has been reported he had been in a meeting with the the University of Arkansas board of trustees just before the announcement.

Later, a TV station posted on its website it had something to do with images on Twitter, but that post later was taken down.

On Friday, state Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "It appears that he was involved in some things that are pretty embarrassing for the university if they turn out to be legitimate."

Steinmetz told The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Anybody can post anything on social media, and the world believes it."

Mark Rushing, a UA spokesman, released this statement: "Dr. Steinmetz has stated that it is not him in the posted photos, that they were Photoshopped."

So we know for sure there were some photos.

The Twitter handle disappeared Thursday along with the pictures.

On Thursday, Steinmetz promised to have the campus home he was afforded cleaned out by Friday, which wouldn't be much of a chore since he and his wife didn't live there.

It was for entertainment purposes, some of those infamous wine and cheese soirees.

Let's just get this out there: I met Steinmetz once, and that was when a former Democrat-Gazette reporter turned public relations assistant for UA System President Donald Bobbitt made the introduction.

He handled our brief conversation professionally and almost with friendliness.

Pictures or no pictures -- and you'll have to take someone else's word for that because there is no desire here to see potentially embarrassing pictures of Steinmetz -- it was felt here that he should have been fired in 2017.

That was when he passed over more experienced people and made Julie Cromer the interim athletic director to replace the fired Jeff Long, a termination Steinmetz fought against.

Cromer then wasted several days being played by Gus Malzahn's agent Jimmy Sexton before Malzahn signed a new contract with Auburn. It made him a very wealthy man when he was fired by the Tigers after last season.

She then hired Chad Morris, who had three years experience at SMU as a college head coach.

They sunk the Razorback football ship and set the program back at least five years. She jumped to Ohio University as the athletic director, and Morris is coaching high school football now.

One of the people Steinmetz ignored when he named Cromer the acting AD was Jon Fagg, who had 20 more years of experience and had conducted several coaching searches. He later was part of the three-man search team that hired Sam Pittman to replace Morris.

Steinmetz could have called on any number of people to be the interim AD or even help on a search committee, but he trusted Cromer, who it is presumed he helped get the job at his alma mater Ohio University.

He also signed the ridiculous Bret Bielema contract extension.

In other words, he didn't seem to have a lot of experience in sports, but he had no trouble trying to make athletic decisions he wasn't qualified to make.

He wasn't fired for what he did to the football program.

Steinmetz, 66, was making $466,000 per year and getting $250,000 in deferred compensation, and he was told to clean his office out in 24 hours.

Someday we'll know why.

Print Headline: Steinmetz's departure about 4 years too late


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