The University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, announced today that it had hired two firms to assist in the hunt for a new athletic director and Razorback football coach to succeed Jeff Long and Bret Bielema.

This accomplishes two things, I believe. For one, it addresses the uproar that followed interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples’ statement that she’d lead the search for a football coach, with input from others. Too aggressive for some in fandom. Others simply wouldn’t believe she’d been left with that kind of authority.


Using outsiders paid with private money to “vet” prospects for both jobs also provides an opportunity for winnowing of the field without bringing the Freedom of Information Act into play. That investigative work — now and later — won’t be open to public inspection. Only contacts by the university with potential employees will be directly open to FOI requests.

The release:


Firms Providing Assistance With Athletic Director Hire, Coaching Search

Consultants will help vet final candidates for the athletic director position; a search firm is currently assisting with the coaching hire.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas will utilize consultants from Korn Ferry to help vet those under consideration to become the next Razorbacks’ athletics director. At this time Razorback Athletics is working with the executive search firm DHR International to assist with the ongoing search for a new head football coach.

Chancellor Joe Steinmetz met Tuesday with members of an advisory committee assembled to provide guidance throughout the search for an athletics director.

“The search for an athletics director is progressing quickly and there are a number of talented individuals we are considering,” Steinmetz said. “The input from the advisory committee has been invaluable. They truly represent the passion our state has for the Razorbacks and understand the importance of this position. The consultants will help us complete the evaluation process. We understand speed is of the essence and are working to name a new leader as quickly as possible.”

Korn Ferry, considered by many to be the nation’s top executive search firm, will be used on a consultative basis specifically for outreach, referencing and vetting final candidates for the athletics director position. Private funds will be used to pay for all of the costs associated with this service.

DHR International will work with interim Athletics Director Julie Cromer Peoples on the search for the Razorbacks’ 33rd head football coach.

“This past weekend we engaged with DHR International to work with us on our head football coach search,” Cromer Peoples said. “DHR International has an excellent reputation in our business and has already provided tremendous assistance to us in this process. With the number of vacant coaching positions in our league and around the nation, it is important that we move forward expeditiously and efficiently in finding the next head football coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks.”

DHR International is one of the largest executive search firms in the world, operating one of the largest sports practices in the executive search industry. The firm will be compensated with private funds from the Razorback Foundation Inc., a separate and self-supporting nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity, that serves as the fundraising arm of the University of Arkansas Athletic Department.

My requests for information about university-Bielema conversations in the days leading up to his firing and my requests to the Razorback Foundation for information on details of the Bielema buyout remain unanswered.

UPDATE: Here’s the contract for the firm that will work on the athletic director search. They’ll be paid $75,000.