Former University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles, hospitalized this week with a severe foot infection, will be honored next month for his final retirement from official associations with the UA and the athletic program. There’s a bit of a back story.
I began inquiring after receiving news of activities June 6-7 honoring Broyles for “retirement” after 55 years of service to the University of Arkansas. Most would have considered him already in retirement. Not exactly. But he will be soon and completely, as sure a marker as any of the new era of corporate athletics at the UA.
First the honors. It’ll start with a golf scramble Friday June 6 at Paradise Valley Golf and Athletic Club, with a luncheon speech by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a former Broyles-coached Razorback.
Saturday, at 7 p.m., at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers comes “Coach’s Quarter: A Celebration of Coach Broyles’ Life and Career.” It will benefit Care Givers United, the foundation Broyles began after the 2004 death of his wife, Barbara, to help people caring for people with Alzheimer’s Disease,. Broyles himself had been such a caregiver. It is, says his daughter Betsy Broyles Arnold, her father’s “second great legacy” after his UA athletic career. It has resulted in the publication of 800,000 copies of the book he wrote on the subject — in 11 languages. Arnold, who now runs the foundation, thinks 50 years from now the new awareness and help he’s provided to families of the rising number of people with the disease might be a greater legacy than sports. That legacy is significant. A football national championship, 18 football hall of famers and a UA campus dotted with buldings — athletic and non-athletic — owed in part to Broyles’ great fund-raising skill.
The back stories:
1) Broyles, 89, is in the hospital this week, but his daughter said she hopes he’ll be released by the weekend. Because of neuropathy, he has decreased sensitivity in his feet. One became significantly infected. Arnold said a portion of his foot had to be cut away and then additional surgery cutting into bone was required Tuesday to be sure the infection had been removed. “He’s doing good. He’s in good spirits. He’s ready to go home,” she said.
2) The university is not taking part in promoting the Broyles tribute, though the event recognizes his final retirement from the University of Arkansas after 55 years as coach, administrator and goodwill ambassador. He retired as athletic director at the end of 2007. He later entered a contract to be “athletic director emeritus.” He continued his goodwill work for the university. He had an office at the Razorback Foundation. He was paid through Foundation funds for his public speaking and fund-raising activities.
That contract expires in June, Arnold said. “This is his official retirement. He’ll no longer be a part of the Foundation or the University of Arkansas.”
You’d think the university would want to join hands in a farewell to a legend. But the university, under Athletic Director Jeff Long, is in a different corporate era, with SEC and marketing contracts that eclipse the sort of money Broyles was able to raise from a small number of wealthy Arkansans in his heyday. They say nobody ever retired under Frank Broyles. There was an office or place for just about anybody in the old guard. With Frank Broyles’ departure, not many of his era will remain.
Arnold said her father loves to work every day. And he’s always happily done whatever the university asked him to do. Arnold says her father doesn’t want to stop working, so he’ll now turn his attention to the foundation.
But first there’ll be the celebration of his time at Arkansas. Barry Switzer, Johnny Majors, Bill Mongtomery and Houston Nutt are confirmed for the June 7 program. If he can make schedule changes, Lance Alworth will also be on hand. There will be film, of course, though I bet not of the Great Shootout with Texas in 1969, still a painful memory for Coach and many others.
The “fourth quarter” of the program will be about “his second passion,” Arnold said. She recounted how her dad came up with the idea of a help book after her mother’s death in 2004. It grew from calls from people seeking advice when they’d heard that Broyles was caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. The first 600,000 books were given away free. The foundation now charges $5 for downloads or for shipping. “It started off being my mother’s legacy,” Arnold said. “Now it’s for both of them.”
The Little Rock Touchdown Club is helping to promote the June event. Call Liz Rainwater at 501-680-6169 or write firstname.lastname@example.org to participate.
Of course, sponsorships are available. Already enlisted are the familiar names that span the old and new era of Razorback athletics, including Walmart, Tyson Foods and the Jim Lindsey companies.
You can also purchase tickets on-line.