FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas announced Monday afternoon the hiring of University of Houston Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek as the Razorbacks’ new athletic director.
Yurachek replaces Jeff Long, Arkansas’ athletic director since 2008 who was fired on Nov. 15.
Arkansas Senior Associate Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples has been the Razorbacks’ interim athletic director since Long was fired. She was put in charge by UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz of the Razorbacks’ search for a head football coach since 5-year Coach Bret Bielema was fired Nov. 24 minutes after the Razorbacks closed their 4-8 overall/1-7 SEC season in a 48-45 loss to Missouri at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Steinmetz officially announced through a UA press release Yurachek’s hiring after earlier afternoon reports in Houston that he was leaving his position as the UH’s vice president of athletics.
At Arkansas Yurachek will have the title of vice chancellor and director of athletics effective immediately, Steinmetz said.
The press release reported that Yurachek agreed to a 5-year contract annually paying $850,000.
““I am thrilled to welcome Hunter to the Razorback family,” Steinmetz said. “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 (Yurachek’s wife) and their children to Arkansas.”
Yurachek also was quoted in Monday’s press release.
“The opportunity to serve the Razorback program is both humbling and exciting,” Yurachek said. “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.”
A 1990 graduate of and a basketball player at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., and later earning a master’s degree in sports administration at the University of Richmond, Yurachek grew up in Charlotte, N.C. He has no past ties with Arkansas and his lone SEC experience was while as director of marketing at Vanderbilt in the 1990s, but earned a respected reputation, including Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year as Houston’s athletic director hiring Tom Herman, then Ohio State’s offensive coordinator as the Cougars’ head coach on Dec. 15, 2014. Herman’s two Cougars teams went 13-1 and 9-3 in 2015 and 2016. Herman was hired in 2017 by the University of Texas to coach the Longhorns.
Major Applewhite, hired by Yurachek to replace Herman, coached the Cougars to a 7-4 2017 season going into their Christmas Eve Hawaii Bowl game against Fresno State.
Yurachek also hired Kelvin Sampson as the Cougars’ men’s head basketball coach and has overseen a 17-sports men’s and woman’s athletic department reportedly with a $45 million budget.
Before becoming Houston’s AD in February, 2014, Yurachek was the athletic director from 2010 at Coastal Carolina University until coming to Houston. While Yurachek was Coastal Carolina’s athletic director, its programs won 29 Big South championships earning him the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year.
Yurachek came to Coastal Carolina after serving as the senior associate athletic director at the University of Akron.
In addition to Vanderbilt, Yurachek worked in athletic administrations at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest and Western Carolina University.