August 2013: Jeff Long

FAYETTEVILLE (KATV) - Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long was named one of the athletic directors of the year by a national organization this summer.

It's{}the second straight year he's been recognized nationally for his leadership. His tenure has seen highs and lows, but it's how he's handled both, that has brought him accolades,{}and makes him this month's "Most Intriguing Arkansan".

Jeff Long's been at the helm of Razorback sports for nearly six years now, and, it was his first big decision that would lead to his biggest crisis. Long's first hire was Bobby Petrino as football coach in 2007, before he technically was even Athletic Director, and after unprecedented success on the field, with the school's first{}BCS appearance in the Sugar Bowl in 2011, it all came crashing down,{}when the coach crashed his motorcycle with a young woman on the back who was not his wife. Petrino lied to Long, and Long fired him.

"You know, when it comes time, you never know quite how you're going to respond in those types of situations but{}I felt like{}I had a sound footing, a great foundation of experiences in my life and people that I looked up to. So,{}I think I was prepared to make the decision," said Long.

Long's foundation was laid over 30 years in athletic administration. Although, it's not what he wanted to do originally. He says he thought he would be a high school coach and teacher. But, after a brief stint as an assistant coach at Miami of Ohio, he changed his mind. After stops at Oklahoma, Michigan, and his first Athletic Director position at Pittsburgh, Long applied at Arkansas in 2007.

{}"I got to know it when{}I was at Oklahoma, and had been over to see a couple of games and visit with Coach Broyles to tour the new football stadium expansion they had done here. That's what attracted me cause{}I knew the university. I knew it had great facilities. I knew it had great potential and I{}wanted to be a part of it," Long said.

{}In his tenure,{}Long has overseen the combining of the men's and women's athletic programs, and has had a hand in raising the cumulative GPA for all the athletes from 2.8 to 3.1. But it's the high profile decisions, like the Petrino firing, that has put him in the national spotlight. Long brought Mike Anderson home to coach the basketball Hogs in 2011, and late last year, surprised everyone watching, by luring Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin to coach football. Both big hits with Razorback fans, but Long says coaching searches are not glamorous.

{}"They're grueling. They're exhausting. They're exhilarating once you make that announcement and make it public. There's a great sense of relief. Because it is a very trying situation and truly at the end you know, you have a great responsibility to hire a great coach for the University of Arkansas, you know. It's a grueling process," he said.

{}Long has been rumored to be a candidate for Athletic Director jobs at Michigan and Stanford, and the rumors will likely continue with his name now nationally known, but he hasn't left yet, and he says he doesn't plan to.

{}"This is the place we want to be. We chose to be here. We chose to be in this part of the country. This what we wanted. We wanted a college town where we could grow up with our family, so you know what, this is where we want to be. I don't see anything but being here at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas," Long said.

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