Leading the SEC

From Jeff Long

Dear Fellow Razorbacks:

The past few weeks have been filled with some exciting announcements regarding Razorback Football. Last month, we received permission from the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees to develop a full design and cost estimate for an extensive Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium renovation and north end zone addition. A few weeks later, Coach Bret Bielema and his coaching staff landed a nationally-ranked recruiting class to further solidify the future success of Razorback Football.

While you have most likely heard at least some about both of those newsworthy items, you may not be aware of another piece of significant news that was published recently. After all, when the Southeastern Conference releases its Fall Academic Honor Roll, it doesn’t generally earn the fanfare of details of the latest game or the breaking news moniker often associated with other on-the-field tidbits. That is why I felt it was important to share with you, personally, some great news that is already helping shape the lives of our football student-athletes for years to come.

I’m pleased to report that in the recently released SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, the University of Arkansas led the SEC with 40 football student-athletes recognized for achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in the fall 2015 semester. Alabama was second with 36 football student-athletes while Vanderbilt ranked third with 33 honor roll members.

The University of Arkansas also led the SEC with 90 honor roll selections within officially sanctioned conference sports. Several SEC programs feature varsity programs not affiliated directly with the SEC. Even with the inclusion of those sports and the addition of those student-athletes, Arkansas still ranked second overall among league schools on the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, besting 12 other SEC programs.

To lead the SEC in football student-athletes on the honor roll is tremendous in its own right, but when taken in consideration of where our program was just eight shorts years ago – that accomplishment is truly extraordinary!

In 2008 when we first combined our athletics program, Arkansas had only seven football student-athletes meet the honor roll standard. But through the years, based on a shift in a focus from simply maintaining athletic eligibility to advancing toward graduation, we have observed a dramatic turnaround. It has been a team effort and Coach Bielema, his staff and our dedicated Student-Athlete Success staff have been pivotal to this progress.

But most of all, the credit goes to the young men who have embraced the challenge to compete, not only on the football field, but in the classroom on the way to earning a college diploma. They have put in countless hours to achieve academically and help transform the academic culture of our football program.

We still have work to do and we will continue to do everything we can to assist our football student-athletes to develop to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics. Your support is vital to fulfilling that mission. After all, you are an integral part of this remarkable story and will be part of the successes to come.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share this exciting news about the Uncommon men who are a part of our program. Under Coach Bielema’s leadership and with your continued support, we are looking forward to even bigger and better things to come with Razorback Football in the days to come.

Go Hogs! Never Yield!

Jeff Long
Vice Chancellor
Director of Athletics