FAYETTEVILLE — Newly hired University of Arkansas Razorbacks Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek promised the UA and Razorbacks fans he’s arrived listening and learning over initially directing and asserting.
The University of Houston athletic director since 2014 and previously the athletic director at Coastal Carolina, Yurachek said he had never been to Fayetteville before until arriving Tuesday night, then meeting with the Razorbacks men’s and women’s programs coaches, administrators and support staffs Wednesday morning followed by a morning press conference introduction to Arkansas media.
"I think most you are aware by now that I am not from Arkansas and I have very few ties to the state," Yurachek said. "But I will tell you I’m a quick study. Right now I have very few answers and so many questions. I am going to ask those questions to a number of people and listen intently and gain a complete understanding of the culture here at the University of Arkansas and across this great state."
During his interview with Joseph Steinmetz in Houston, Yurachek presented a "100 day plan" of spending many of his first 100 days on the job traveling the state and listening and learning.
"My life, both professional and personal, will quickly adapt to this culture," Yurachek said. "I promise you, each and every one of you across this state, that myself and family will become engrossed in this state and this community and become a part of its fabric."
Yurachek said the Frank Broyles legacy, always brings attention to Arkansas including his.
" I remember him being fiery and passionate," Yurachek said. "I think everybody enjoyed meeting him. I think he made everybody feel like they were special. That’s what I strive to do as well."
Yurachek seemed most brought to Steinmetz’s attention by former NCAA women’s golf champion and current LPGA standout Stacy Lewis. Lewis was one of a seven -member advisory committee assisting on the athletic director’s search. Lewis and Lewis; husband, Gerrod Chadwell, know Yurachek well.
However Yurachek said he believed Lewis, who accompanied Steinmetz when he interviewed Yurachek last Saturday morning in Houston did more convincing to him about Arkansas than she did convincing Steinmetz about him.
" I know there is the impression that maybe Stacy gave me an advantage," Yurachek said. "She gave me an advantage because she gave some great insight into the University of Arkansas. She did great job selling me more on the opportunity than selling me as a candidate to the people here. She was a great resource for me as I was preparing for my interview. She did a great job selling. She was passionate about the University of Arkansas."
Opening and closing his press conference thanking Steinmetz for providing him the opportunity to come to Arkansas, Yurachek also thanked University of Houston President Renu Khator for providing him the opportunity there. He stressed the relationship he had with Khator and what he feels is athletics relationship to the universities.
"I am a true believer that the department of athletics is indeed a front porch of major universities," Yurachek said. "Being the front porch does not mean it is the most important room in the house but it is indeed the most visible room in the house, It provides a first impression. It provides a great sense of pride for all of its constituents. When our student-athletes at the University of Arkansas have success academically, athletically and in their personal development, our coaches will have success.
"I promise you it’s a big front porch," Yurachek added. "And there’s room for everybody.
While committed to the Razorbacks’ all-sports programs in men’s and women’s athletics, Yurachek said it’s imperative that football "drives the train."
"It’s really what drives your revenue," Yurachek said. "We have other very, very nationally competitive sports here at the University of Arkansas, but for our entire athletic program to be successful year in and year out, we need our football program to be successful year in and year out, not only in the Southeastern Conference, but nationally."