Yu­rachek ea­ger to be­gin lead­ing Ra­zor­backs

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports - By Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE - Newly hired Univer­sity of Arkansas Ra­zor­backs Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Hunter Yu­rachek promised the UA and Ra­zor­backs fans he’s ar­rived lis­ten­ing and learn­ing over ini­tially di­rect­ing and as­sert­ing.

The Univer­sity of Houston ath­letic di­rec­tor since 2014 and pre­vi­ously the ath­letic di­rec­tor at Coastal Carolina, Yu­rachek said he had never been to Fayetteville be­fore un­til ar­riv­ing Tues­day night and then meet­ing with the Ra­zor­backs men’s and women’s pro­grams coaches, ad­min­is­tra­tors and sup­port staffs Wed­nes­day morn­ing fol­lowed by a morn­ing press con­fer­ence in­tro­duc­tion to Arkansas me­dia.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing his lack of pre­vi­ous ties to Arkansas and while never men­tion­ing, but no doubt aware that pre­vi­ous Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Jeff Long, fired on Nov. 15, paid a pub­lic re­la­tions price for upon ar­rival ap­pear­ing with more pre­con­ceived ready-made an­swers than ask­ing ques­tions re­gard­ing the Ra­zor­backs and suc­ceed­ing Arkansas icon Frank Broyles as ath­letic di­rec­tor, Yu­rachek stressed lis­ten­ing and learn­ing through­out the press con­fer­ence also fea­tur­ing the man who hired him, Joe Stein­metz, the Chan­cel­lor of the UA’s Fayetteville cam­pus.

“I think most you are aware by now that I am not from Arkansas and I have very few ties to the state,” Yu­rachek said. “But I will tell you I’m a quick study. Right now I have very few an­swers and so many ques­tions. I am go­ing to ask those ques­tions to a num­ber of peo­ple and lis­ten in­tently and gain a com­plete un­der­stand­ing of the cul­ture here at the Univer­sity of Arkansas and across this great state.”

Dur­ing his interview with Stein­metz in Houston, Yu­rachek pre­sented a “100 day plan” of spend­ing many of his first 100 days on the job trav­el­ing the state and lis­ten­ing and learn­ing.

“My life, both pro­fes­sional and per­sonal, will quickly adapt to this cul­ture,” Yu­rachek said. “I prom­ise you, each and ev­ery one of you across this state, that my­self and fam­ily will be­come en­grossed in this state and this com­mu­nity and be­come a part of its fab­ric.”

The Ra­zor­backs part in that fab­ric is na­tion­ally known, Yu­rachek said.

“It’s an honor to be in this po­si­tion of be­ing the vice-chan­cel­lor and di­rec­tor of ath­let­ics and to em­brace the his­tory and her­itage and tra­di­tion of Ra­zor­backs ath­let­ics that in­cludes count­less con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships, na­tional cham­pi­onships, bowl games, Fi­nal Four ap­pear­ances, Olympic medal­ist stu­dent-ath­letes and in­cred­i­ble lead­ers such as Frank Broyles,” Yu­rachek said. “This is truly a spe­cial, spe­cial place.”

Yu­rachek said the Broyles legacy al­ways brings at­ten­tion to Arkansas, in­clud­ing his.

“I re­mem­ber him be­ing fiery and pas­sion­ate,” Yu­rachek said. “I think ev­ery­body en­joyed meet­ing him. I think he made ev­ery­body feel like they were spe­cial. That's what I strive to do as well.”

Yu­rachek seemed most brought to Stein­metz’s at­ten­tion by for­mer NCAA women’s golf cham­pion and cur­rent LPGA stand­out Stacy Lewis. Lewis was one of a seven-mem­ber ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee as­sist­ing on the ath­letic di­rec­tor’s search. Lewis and her hus­band, Ger­rod Chad­well, know Yu­rachek well.

Chad­well has coached the Cougars’ women’s golf team since 2013.

How­ever, Yu­rachek said he be­lieved Lewis, who ac­com­pa­nied Stein­metz when he in­ter­viewed Yu­rachek last Satur­day morn­ing in Houston, did more con­vinc­ing to him about Arkansas than she did con­vinc­ing Stein­metz about him.

“I know there is the im­pres­sion that maybe Stacy gave me an ad­van­tage,” Yu­rachek said. “She gave me an ad­van­tage be­cause she gave some great in­sight into the Univer­sity of Arkansas. She did great job sell­ing me more on the op­por­tu­nity than sell­ing me as a can­di­date to the peo­ple here. She was a great re­source for me as I was pre­par­ing for my interview.

She did a great job sell­ing. She was pas­sion­ate about the Univer­sity of Arkansas.”

Stein­metz, laud­ing Yu­rachek through­out the press con­fer­ence and not­ing he was the 2014 FCS (Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion) Ath­letic Di­rec­tor while still at Coastal Carolina, cred­ited Lewis for her role in the search.

“She was very, very valu­able in the end to help us to de­cide if Hunter was the right per­son,” Yu­rachek said. “I’m re­ally in­debted to Stacy for that. She stepped up and did a fan­tas­tic job for us.”

Open­ing and clos­ing his press con­fer­ence thank­ing Stein­metz for pro­vid­ing him the op­por­tu­nity to come to Arkansas, Yu­rachek also thanked Univer­sity of Houston Pres­i­dent Renu Kha­tor for pro­vid­ing him the op­por­tu­nity there. He stressed the re­la­tion­ship he had with Kha­tor and what he feels is ath­let­ics re­la­tion­ship to the uni­ver­si­ties of which it is a part.

“I am a true be­liever that the depart­ment of ath­let­ics is in­deed a front porch of ma­jor uni­ver­si­ties,” Yu­rachek said. “Be­ing the front porch does not mean it is the most im­por­tant room in the house, but it is in­deed the most vis­i­ble room in the house, it pro­vides a first im­pres­sion. It pro­vides a great sense of pride for all of its con­stituents.

“When our stu­dent-ath­letes at the Univer­sity of Arkansas have suc­cess aca­dem­i­cally, ath­let­i­cally and in their per­sonal devel­op­ment, our coaches will have suc­cess.

“The Ra­zor­backs ath­letic pro­gram, the front porch of the Univer­sity of Arkansas, will be a sense of pride for this com­mu­nity and for this state. And will do so through the suc­cess of our stu­dent-ath­letes.”

Yu­rachek stressed it’s an in­clu­sive front porch wel­com­ing sup­port.

“I prom­ise you it’s a big front porch,” Yu­rachek said. “And there’s room for ev­ery­body."

While com­mit­ted to the Ra­zor­backs’ all-sports pro­grams in men’s and women’s ath­let­ics, Yu­rachek said it’s im­per­a­tive that foot­ball “drives the train.”

“It’s re­ally what drives your rev­enue,” Yu­rachek said. “We have other very, very na­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive sports here at the Univer­sity of Arkansas, but for our en­tire ath­letic pro­gram to be suc­cess­ful year in and year out, we need our foot­ball pro­gram to be suc­cess­ful year in and year out, not only in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, but na­tion­ally.”

Mostly strug­gling the last six years with 4-8 in 2012 un­der in­terim coach John L. Smith fol­lowed by 3-9, 7-6, 8-5, 7-6 and 4-8 un­der Bret Bielema, fired on Nov. 24 and re­placed Wed­nes­day by SMU coach Chad Mor­ris with Yu­rachek’s late in­put to In­terim Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Julie Cromer Peo­ples su­per­vis­ing and com­plet­ing the foot­ball coach­ing search, foot­ball will im­prove with Wed­nes­day’s hire, Yu­rachek as­serted.

“We're in the process of hir­ing the right foot­ball coach,” Yu­rachek said, shortly be­fore the UA’s of­fi­cial re­lease an­nounc­ing Mor­ris’ hir­ing. “And I think you're go­ing to see great things from our foot­ball pro­gram.”

Jen­nifer Yu­rachek, Hunter Yu­rachek’s wife, was in­tro­duced by both hus­band and Stein­metz dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s press con­fer­ence.

They have three sons, two in Houston Wed­nes­day at­tend­ing high school and ju­nior high school, and one play­ing foot­ball as a tight end at Mar­shall Univer­sity in Hunt­ing­ton, West Vir­ginia.

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