This just in from the University of Arkansas, via an e-mail from Kevin Trainor, associate athletic director, about my question first thing this morning about whether Athletic Director Jeff Long would get a pay raise as a result of overtures to be the athletic director at the University of Texas.
He is — a $100,000 bonus payment to be paid later this month and an increase in his annual guaranteed pay — currently $900,000 — of $100,000 effective Nov. 1, with another $100,000 increase scheduled July 1. In return, the buyout Long must pay if he leaves rises to $1.3 million, from the previous $1 million, through 2015.
He qualifies for $250,000 in incentives for performance objectives on his current contract, which remain in place as he steps up to $1.1 million in guaranteed pay by July 1.
In a Nov. 1 letter to Long, signed by UA Chancellor David Gearhart and Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the UA System, Gearhart wrote:
President Donald Bobbitt and I are also aware that another institution of higher education with significant resources has expressed its desire to retain your services for its athletic department at a higher compensation level than you are currently receiving at the University. Accordingly, the University would like to retain you in your current position.
The letter then set out the terms of the increase, “in exchange for your agreement to remove yourself from consideration for another position and to retain you at the University of Arkansas,” and a modified buyout agreement running through the current termination of the contract in 2018, a sliding scale from $1.3 million down to $100,000.
Sunday night, Long had said he was not in talks with Texas. As most concluded at the time, that was not the same as saying he had NOT ever been in talks with Texas. Democrat-Gazette columnist Wally Hall suggested this morning that Gearhart had given Long a pay raise to stay and continue work on his ambitious expansion of Razorback athletic facilities.
I asked early this morning if that was true, whether a new contract was in the works and for any correspondence that related to the matter and the Texas contacts. Late this afternoon, I got this note from Trainor:
On behalf of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, I am writing in response to your Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request below.
Attached please find a letter of agreement to amend the compensation of Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long which falls within the scope of your request. In the event that any additional records are located, we will supplement this response.
In closing, the letter commented:
We know that by accepting the terms presented in this letter, that you will be foregoing the opportunity to earn more compensation elsewhere, and we appreciate your commitment to the University.
By his signature, Long accepted the terms. (Texas, by the way, hired a UT grad, Steve Patterson, currently athletic director at Arizona State, to be its athletic director.)
Here’s the contract Long signed a little more than a year ago when his pay was increased because of interest from Stanford. For the record, UA notes that the athletic department is “self-supporting” and that Long’s pay is split between the UA and Razorback Foundation. This is meaningless eyewash. No money flows to UA without its status as the state’s biggest university, with land for facilities and students to help fill them and people who pay premium prices for tickets that flow through public employees into the university and the Razorback Foundation. If the football program fell apart and receipts fell to zero, UA would be obligated for roughly half of Long’s money, plus the matches for retirement and other perks. So about that thing that no taxpayers contribute? Hogwash.
Here’s an explanation of his incentive pay. Easy money. I mean, what team can’t win six football games and go to a bowl.
The only document I received in response to my FOI was this letter. Just to be safe, I followed up with Trainor:
I take it that means no other notes, emails, drafts, memos, telephone text messages, etc. exist between Long and Texas officials or intermediaries or UA officials and others related to this matter, including Razorback Foundation officials. I made a comprehensive request that should cover anything sent or received by a public employee by mail, hand delivery, email or text message.
The intent was to provide you pertinent material related to your request as quickly as possible. As I stated in my e-mail response, any potential additional responsive records would be provided in a supplemental response.