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Arkansas hires Houston's Yurachek as its new AD

Yurachek joined the University of Houston Athletics Department back in 2014 as the associate vice president and chief operating officer. (Photo courtesy: University of Houston)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP/KATV) -- Arkansas has hired Houston's Hunter Yurachek as its new athletics director, the university confirmed Monday afternoon.

Yurachek replaces Jeff Long, who was fired on Nov. 15 for losing the faith of school's leadership following a six-year downturn in the football program.

“I am thrilled to welcome Hunter to the Razorback family,” said Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. “He possesses the experience, the management skills and the passion to have an immediate impact on our university. I know that as Razorbacks around our state and country get to know him, they will know that we are in good hands. We welcome Hunter, Jennifer and their children to Arkansas.”

Yurachek will be formally introduced to the state later this week at a time to be determined, the university states.

“The opportunity to serve the Razorback program is both humbling and exciting,” said Yurachek. “There is so much already in place, and we will quickly build on that foundation to win championships. We will do so with integrity and while continuing to be a great source of pride for the entire state of Arkansas. I want to thank Chancellor Steinmetz and those involved with the search process. Jennifer, myself and our family cannot wait to join the Arkansas Razorback family.”

Yurachek has agreed to a five-year contract worth $850,000 a year.

One of his first priorities with the Razorbacks will be to find a new football coach following the firing of Bret Bielema after the season. Julie Cromer Peoples had been serving as the interim athletic director following Long's firing.

Yurachek leaves Houston after nearly three years, where he was hired after working as the athletic director at Coastal Carolina. He previously worked at Akron and played basketball at Guilford College, where he graduated from in 1990.

Yurachek takes over what's been one of the more stable athletic director positions in all of college athletics. Long was a part of the Razorbacks program for nearly 10 years before Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz fired him for losing the support "of many of our fans, alumni, key supporters and members of the university leadership."

Before Long, the athletic department was guided for more than 30 years by former football coach Frank Broyles, who served as the athletic director from 1974 until 2007.

Arkansas finished 4-8 this season and was 29-34 overall under Bielema, including a mark of 11-29 in the Southeastern Conference. The Razorbacks are 32-43 in their last six seasons since the firing of scandal-ridden former coach Bobby Petrino, the school's worst six-year stretch since it went 22-38 from 1948-52.

Under Yurachek and former football coach Tom Herman, Houston went 13-1 in 2015 and 9-4 in 2016 before Herman departed for Texas. Yurachek was responsible for hiring Major Applewhite as the Cougars football coach after last season, and Houston was 7-4 this season in Applewhite's first year.

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