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Frank Broyles, legendary Razorback coach and athletics director, dies

The legendary Razorback coach and athletics director, who suffered a stroke in July, died at the age of 92 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. (Photo: KATV)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KATV) -- Frank Broyles passed away today at the age of 92.

The legendary Razorback coach and athletics director, who suffered a stroke in July, died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to his family.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Coach Frank Broyles," the Broyles family said in a statement.

"He passed peacefully in his home surrounded by his loved ones."

“The Razorback Family has lost its patriarch and Arkansas has lost one of its most beloved figures," Athletics Director Jeff Long said in a statement. "Coach Frank Broyles was a legendary coach, athletics director, broadcaster and a tireless advocate for those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. In his more than 50 years of service to the University of Arkansas and intercollegiate athletics, his vision and leadership allowed the Razorback program to flourish and in turn enrich the lives of thousands of young men. In the process, he brought unprecedented national attention to Arkansas. His passion for the Razorbacks was infectious, his spirit was indomitable and his vision helped transform a program, a university and an entire state. His legacy in our state is unmatched."

In 1957, Broyles had only been the head football coach at Missouri for one year when he learned a job in Arkansas was open. When Broyles took the field with the Razorbacks in 1958, it was the beginning of a half-century-long career that would change Arkansas sports forever.

In 19 seasons, he led the Hogs to seven Southwest Conference championships and a school record 22 game-winning streak in the early 60's. In the middle of that streak, the Razorbacks had an undefeated season in 1964 and a shared national championship.

While Broyles left his mark on the football program, it was his time as athletics director that laid the foundation for unprecedented success.

He showed a real talent for hiring talent. Over the next 30 years, he brought in coaches who led Razorback sports to new heights. Track coach John McDonald became the most successful college coach in history with 42 national championships. Nolan Richardson would lead the basketball Razorbacks to their first national championship.

Broyles also earned a reputation of being quick to run off his coaches, however. Football coach Lou Holtz was fired after the 1983 season, even though he had won nearly three-quarters of his games. His successor, Ken Hatfield, left town after 1989 with an even better winning percentage. Hatfield's successor, Jack Crowe, was famously fired one game into the 1992 season after losing to the Citadel, a lower-division team.

Broyles axed Nolan Richardson in 2002 after only his second losing season in 17 years. Richardson said he was treated unfairly because he is black, and dared Broyles to fire him. Broyles did and Richardson sued. His lawsuit was later dismissed.

Broyles' legacy is perhaps most visible by walking around campus. A master fundraiser, he brought in more than $200 million to renovate facilities and build new ones. Under his watch, Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium was expanded, and new baseball, basketball and track facilities were built.

In 1990, Broyles led the charge to take Arkansas out of the Southwest Conference and into the SEC, a decision that is universally seen as helping Arkansas become an even stronger national program.

In 1999, he lobbied to move all Razorback football home games to Fayetteville, a move that still infuriates fans in Central and Southern Arkansas. A compromise was ultimately reached with a long-term contract to play two games a year at War Memorial Stadium - a contract his successor Jeff Long worked to modify to one.

Broyles retired in 2007, but remained visible. He still held an office at the Razorback Foundation. In 2013, he was on hand to be honored with a new statue, erected outside the complex that bares his name.

His memory will live on - with his name on the football field, an award trophy honoring the nation's best assistant coach, and certainly in the minds of the Razorback family.

"He was the very definition of a difference maker," the Broyles family said in a statement. "It will be impossible to fill the void created by his passing. But even in our grief, our hearts are overflowing with the love, gratitude and treasured memories of the charmed life and lasting legacy of our beloved Coach.

"We are planning a public celebration of his life. Once the details are finalized we will share them with you."


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