For nearly five decades, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles has helped define the standard of excellence in intercollegiate athletics. A legendary coach, nationally respected athletic administrator and tireless goodwill ambassador for his university and state, Broyles' influence continues to shape the Razorback program as well as impact the vast collegiate athletic landscape.
Set to enter his 46th year with UA and his 30th year as athletic director, Broyles is as synonymous with the UA athletic program as the Hog on the side of the football helmet or even the very nickname: Razorbacks.
His intensely competitive spirit, boundless enthusiasm and love for Arkansas has inspired him to build an athletic program that is on the cutting edge in the ever-changing world of college athletics.
There is little doubt Broyles has had more positive impact on athletics in Arkansas than any person in the history of the state. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette confirmed his status when it named him the most influential figure in athletics in the state during the 20th Century.
A recipient of nearly every award and accolade associated with college athletics, Broyles prefers to focus his attention on the future of the Razorback program rather than dwell on the impressive accomplishments of the past.
It is that forward-thinking style that has allowed Broyles to excel in every aspect of leadership. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the Razorback program, however, is his knack for hiring quality head coaches and surrounding them with the tools and facilities they need to compete at the highest level.
In order to have a successful program it is essential to assemble a solid staff. Broyles has a history of picking the right ones as head coaches and administrators at Arkansas. UA football coach Houston Nutt has led the Razorback football team to four straight bowl games and has revived the passion of football fans across the state. John McDonnell is the most successful collegiate coach in history, with 36 national championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. Robert Cox is entering his 16th season as the coach of Arkansas' tradition-rich tennis program.
Although blessed with a stable of quality tenured coaches, Broyles has recently re-exhibited his ability to land some of the nation's top up and coming coaches for some of the Razorbacks' most successful programs. In just the past two years, Broyles has hired high profile coaches for the Razorbacks' basketball, baseball and golf programs.
Stan Heath was a rising star in the collegiate basketball coaching world after leading Kent State to an improbable run to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight. By the time the 2002 Final Four was underway the next weekend, Heath was donning an Arkansas sweater vest.
Not long after legendary baseball coach Norm DeBriyn stepped down, Broyles hired Dave Van Horn. The former Razorback player and graduate assistant led Nebraska to back-to-back College World Series appearances before returning to Fayetteville.
The UA golf program is once again on track after Broyles lured former UA golfer Mike Ketcham back to his alma mater.
The Arkansas AD knows facilities influence recruiting, which is the lifeblood of any program. He will do anything to ensure a competitive edge for his coaches when they are wooing prospective student-athletes.
Broyles has made sure Arkansas has facilities second to none. His most recent project was an expansion and renovation of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium completed prior to the 2001 season. The project expanded stadium capacity from 51,000 to 72,000 while adding state-of-the-art amenities, including multiple club levels and a 107-foot-by-30-foot video screen atop the Broyles Athletic Center. Plans are already in place to increase the capacity to more than 80,000 in the future. Football has also benefited from the recent construction of the Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion, a full-size indoor workout facility. In the summer of 2002, a new layer of AstroPlay was added in the Walker Pavilion.
Broyles has made certain that every Razorback sport enjoys the advantage of competing in one of the nation's top collegiate sporting venues. The completion of the Randal Tyson Track Center in 2000 allowed the Razorbacks to host the 2000 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track Championships as well as the 2000, 2001 and 2002 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Arkansas is slated to host NCAA championship meets until 2005.
Baum Stadium at George Cole Field was named the nation's top college baseball facility by Baseball America shortly after it debuted in 1996. In its sixth year of existence, Baum Stadium was the site of the first-ever NCAA baseball regional in the state following the Hogs' 1999 SEC championship season.
The Razorbacks' outdoor track facility, John McDonnell Field, was renovated with a new press box, surface and scoreboard in time for the 1999 season. The Dills Family Tennis Center was dedicated in the spring of 2002 after the construction of two additional courts and an extensive renovation of the former indoor tennis and track center.
The current string of building projects began in 1992 when ground was broken on Bud Walton Arena. It opened in November of 1993 and the Razorbacks won the NCAA basketball championship during their first full season in the fabulous 19,200-seat facility. Walton Arena has been sold out all nine years of its existence and houses a museum for basketball, track, baseball, golf and tennis.
Broyles' juices were flowing for upgraded facilities long before the new ones were built. When he engineered Arkansas' switch from the Southwest Conference to the Southeastern Conference in August of 1990, he knew improvements were necessary. He still works passionately at revising what has been built to make each project bigger and better.
A past Division I chairman of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and a member of that organization's executive committee, Broyles showed incredible vision when he steered the Razorbacks into the SEC. It would have been easy to maintain the status quo as one of the dominant programs of the SWC and now perhaps the Big 12 Conference, but Broyles saw the possibilities for the Hogs in the SEC and ensured a solid future for Arkansas athletics.
It is a move that has proven prosperous for both parties. In its first 11 years in the nation's top league, Arkansas has won 24 national championships and 34 SEC titles. No other league school has won more than six national crowns in men's athletics during that span.
While most administrators would shy away form such bold moves, Broyles' vision allows him to see opportunities rather than obstacles. His vision extends to every area of his life. He is well aware he has been blessed. That is why he has done so much for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that he has been named a life trustee for the organization. He currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Athletes Outreach as well.
It was his ability to see the potential in a situation that led Broyles to Arkansas in the first place. He was an assistant coach at Baylor when he first realized what a jewel the Arkansas job could be. As Bobby Dodd's offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, he longed for the opportunity to be the Razorback coach someday. But UA Athletic Director John Barnhill told him that he would have to have head coaching experience before he would be considered for the position.
So in 1957, Broyles accepted an offer to become the head football coach at the University of Missouri. He had been in Columbia, Mo., just one season when the Razorbacks were searching for a coach once again. When Barnhill called, Broyles jumped at the chance to move to Fayetteville. That was in December of 1957. Despite numerous opportunities to leave for other jobs, he has been at Arkansas since.
Broyles saw a state with only one major athletic program and envisioned the potential of a budding Razorback program in Arkansas. He united the state behind the Hogs as they became one of the dominant college football powers of the 1960s. He has taken things a step further as athletic director.
When Broyles was named to his current post in 1973, Arkansas enjoyed sustained success only in football and that was primarily his doing. While maintaining the Razorbacks' strong tradition in football, Broyles began the transformation of the rest of the athletics program.
Eddie Sutton was hired to coach basketball, while McDonnell was inked to handle track. Norm DeBriyn was given control of baseball and the foundation was set. All three coaches are in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor. McDonnell is still going strong for the Razorbacks.
Meanwhile, facilities have been built and rebuilt. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium was enlarged by 10,000 seats before the 1985 season and recently underwent the most ambitious renovation and expansion project in UA history. Barnhill Arena was expanded and renovated before being replaced with Bud Walton Arena. John McDonnell Field was built more than a decade ago but has undergone several enhancement projects in recent years.
In 1983, the UA indoor track and tennis center was opened. With indoor track now housed at the Randal Tyson Track Center, the facility is scheduled to undergo future renovations to further develop the UA tennis facilities. George Cole Field was built for baseball in 1974 and has now given way to Baum Stadium. Broyles was also responsible for building, then renovating, the football and administrative center in the north end zone of the football stadium that bears his name.
All of the improvements have been paid for through private donations without a dollar of tax revenues. With the recent completion of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas has spent nearly $215 million on construction and renovation of athletic facilities during the past 24 years.
Broyles' philosophy of hiring quality coaches and building state-of-the-art facilities has keyed an unprecedented era of success at Arkansas. In the 23 years before Broyles became athletic director, Arkansas had never captured a national championship and owned only seven SWC titles in sports other than football. During his 29-year term as AD, the Hogs have won 37 national championships, 57 SWC titles and 34 SEC crowns in the same collection of sports.
Football hasn't suffered either, with 19 bowl trips, four league championships and two SEC Western Division titles during that same span.
One of six initial inductees into the UA Sports Hall of Honor, Broyles has collected nearly as many honors as he has national and league titles. A 1983 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Broyles was once again honored by the National Football Foundation in 2000 as the recipient of the John L. Toner Award. The honor recognizes an athletic director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football.
Broyles is a long-time member of the Arkansas State Sports Hall of Fame and was chosen by the Southwest Marketing Association as the 1988 Outstanding Marketer of the Year. He has recently been honored by the Atlanta Council of the Boy Scouts of America (Bobby Jones Award), the Arkansas Rotarians (Paul Harris Fellowship), Arkansas High School Coaches Association (Distinguished Service Award) and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in a joint venture with Little Rock's KARK-TV (Distinguished Citizen Award).
Beginning his 46th year at Arkansas, Broyles has always been a
wonderful ambassador for UA and the state. For nine years he was ABC's top color commentator on college football telecasts, teaming with legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson. Broyles has been the keynote speaker at conventions, civic group meetings and coaching clinics all over the nation. His insight into the world of college athletics is sought on a daily basis.
His contributions are not limited to athletic endeavors. Broyles was instrumental in the success of the University's Campaign for Books and is a co-chairman on UA's Campaign for the Twenty-First Century.
In fact, Broyles and his wife Barbara pledged a sizable financial commitment to the project just last spring. He was also a key component in the fundraising drive to renovate Old Main, the UA campus' signature landmark.
Broyles was a legendary athlete long before he came to Arkansas. He was a football, basketball and baseball standout at Decatur (Ga.) High School, then earned 10 letters in those three sports at Georgia Tech. He quarterbacked the Yellow Jackets to four bowl appearances, was twice All-SEC and in 1944 was named SEC Player of the Year. He set, and remarkably still holds, the Orange Bowl record for most passing yards in a game. He is in the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and has been honored with the Georgia Tech Former Student-Athlete Total Person Award.
He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1947 with a degree in industrial management. He turned down professional football and baseball offers to become an assistant football coach for Bob Woodruff at Baylor. After three years at Waco he moved with Woodruff to Florida. A year later he was hired by Dodd as offensive backfield coach and Georgia Tech promptly rolled to a 31-game winning streak and won six-consecutive bowl games.
Next came a year at Missouri and finally Arkansas. His initial team at Fayetteville lost its first six games before closing with four victories. The Razorbacks then won SWC titles in 1959, 1960 and 1961.
They won the league again in 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1975. The '64 Razorbacks finished 11-0, shut out their final five regular season opponents and defeated Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl to win the post-bowl versions of the national championship. A school record 22-game winning streak was launched in the final game of the 1963 season and ended at the 1966 Cotton Bowl.
For his efforts as head coach, an assistant coach and player he has been named to the Orange Bowl, Gator Bowl and Cotton Bowl halls of fame.
He also has become known nationally as a producer of head coaches with over 30 of his former players or assistants earning major college and/or professional positions. Former Broyles assistants Barry Switzer, John Majors and Jimmy Johnson have combined to win five national championships. Johnson, Switzer and Joe Gibbs, another Broyles assistant, coached teams to five Super Bowl titles. Broyles' protégés have won more than 40 conference titles and 2,000 games at the collegiate level.
He has had such success with assistant coaches that an award named after him has been given to the top assistant coach in college football the past five years. The Broyles Award has become one of the most prestigious and coveted awards in college football.