Arkansas hires Houston's Yurachek as athletic director

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas ended its nearly three-week search for an athletic director Monday by naming Houston's Hunter Yurachek as the replacement for Jeff Long.

Yurachek's first task will be finding a football coach to replace Bret Bielema, who was fired after the season. Yurachek signed a five-year contract worth $850,000 annually after earning a base salary of $450,000 as athletic director at Houston.

"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."

Yurachek replaces Long, who was fired Nov. 15 following a six-year downturn in the football program.

The coaching search had been led by interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples following Long's firing. The school had been connected to former Arkansas player Gus Malzahn, but he signed a seven-year deal to remain at Auburn on Sunday night.

Yurachek led Houston for nearly three years after serving as athletic director at Coastal Carolina. He previously worked at Akron and played basketball at Guilford College, where he graduated from in 1990.

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

"Hunter has helped us build on our nationally competitive athletics program on the field, in the classroom and by adding to our first class facilities and I wish him well," Houston President Renu Khator said. "The University of Houston remains committed to our winning tradition, and we will immediately begin the search for a leader who shares our desire to compete for championships at the highest level."

Yurachek takes over what's been among the more stable athletic director positions. 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 athletic director from 1974 until 2007.

Arkansas finished 4-8 this season and was 29-34 overall under Bielema, including 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.

"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."


AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.


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Follow Kurt Voigt on Twitter @Kurt_Voigt_AP

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