Guided by the program’s mission of building Champions and Razorbacks for Life, vice chancellor and director of athletics Hunter Yurachek has helped lead the University of Arkansas’ Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to unprecedented success on and off the field.
Since being introduced as the vice chancellor and director of athletics on Dec. 4, 2017, Yurachek has worked tirelessly to foster athletics success in all 19 sports, restore the tradition of a storied program and enhance the student-athlete experience for 465 student-athletes. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Razorback student-athletes, coaches, administrators, Razorback Foundation members and fans, results are being realized on and off the field.
Now in his sixth full year at the University of Arkansas, Yurachek has firmly positioned the Razorbacks as one of the nation’s elite intercollegiate athletics programs. Arkansas is in midst of the most successful era of its program with three-consecutive top-15 Directors’ Cup finishes, after earning only one top-15 finish in the first 24 years of the competition.
Arkansas has more than made its mark in the most competitive conference in the nation, winning 31 Southeastern Conference Championships in the past five years, including 23 conference titles in the past three years alone. Both marks lead all SEC programs and the Razorbacks’ 31 titles is more than five other league programs combined in that same timeframe.
People throughout the nation are taking notice of the historic run in Fayetteville. Yurachek was selected as a 2021-22 Football Bowl Subdivision Cushman & Wakefield Athletics Director of the Year by his peers. He was also a finalist for the Sports Business Journal 2022 Athletics Director of the Year.
Yurachek’s leadership is also making a difference within Arkansas, the SEC and throughout intercollegiate athletics. In 2020, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson named Yurachek to the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, to help guide state reopening in the wake of COVID-19. Yurachek was honored as the Arkansas Press Association Headliner of the Year in 2021 and was named the inaugural Celebrate Arkansas Influencer of the Year in 2022.
He is a member of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, a role he has held since 2021, after previously serving on the Football Competition Committee. Yurachek is the only conference athletics director currently serving on the SEC Executive Committee, which approves the annual operating budget and oversees all financial and fiscal affairs of the conference.
In 2022-23, the Razorbacks recorded a third-consecutive top-15 finish with a No. 13 finish. Arkansas finished first among programs with 19 or fewer sports. The Razorbacks captured two NCAA Championships (MITK, WITK), earned 13 top-25 finishes and six top-10 national finishes. Seventeen of 19 programs were ranked in the top 25, with eight breaking into the top 10. The Hogs won a bowl game for the second-straight year, advanced to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen for the third-consecutive year and won the program’s first match in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament in 18 years. Arkansas won five SEC Championships (BA, MITK, WITK, MOTK, WOTK).
Academically, Razorback student-athletes combined for a 3.20 cumulative GPA and 166 student-athletes earned academic personal bests. A total of 72 Razorback student-athletes graduated and another 12 earned graduate certificates.
In the 2021-22 academic year, Arkansas recorded the most successful year in the program’s history, finishing seventh in the Learfield Directors’ Cup. The Razorbacks finished first among programs with 19 or fewer sports, second among SEC schools and earned only its second top-10 Directors’ Cup finish. Arkansas earned a total of nine top-10 NCAA finishes and 12 top-20 NCAA finishes. The Razorbacks won eight Southeastern Conference championships (men’s and women’s cross country, soccer, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, softball regular season, softball tournament) and won a New Year’s Day bowl game in football for the first time since 2000. In addition, the Razorbacks advanced to the College World Series, the Elite Eight in men’s basketball and women’s soccer, and the NCAA Golf Championships in both men’s and women’s golf.
In the classroom, Razorback student-athletes earned a program-record 3.27 GPA and a total of 97 Razorback student-athletes earned their degrees and added their names to Senior Walk in the 2021-22 academic year.
In 2020-21, Razorback Athletics earned a then program-best eighth place finish in the 2020-21 Learfield Directors’ Cup. Arkansas’ previous best finish, prior to 2020-21, was 14th in the competition that tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs.
The Razorbacks won another NCAA title (Women’s Indoor Track & Field), earned eight Top-10 NCAA finishes and a remarkable 10 Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships, including SEC triple crown sweeps in both men’s and women’s cross country & track and field, a second-straight soccer regular season crown, the program’s first softball regular season title and a baseball regular season and tournament championship. Arkansas’ championship total led the league and doubled the next closest SEC program.
Meanwhile, Razorback student-athletes combined for a 3.25 GPA and 104 student-athletes graduated from the University of Arkansas. A multi-million-dollar renovation of the Randal Tyson Track Center was completed, while brand new facilities, including the $27 million J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Baseball Development Center and the $15 million Frank O’Mara Track and Field High Performance Center were constructed.
Even in an abbreviated 2019-20 competition schedule, Razorback Athletics built an impressive resume, including winning its first NCAA championship in women’s cross country and its first SEC title in soccer. In addition, the Razorbacks earned SEC championships in women’s cross country and men’s and women’s indoor track and field. Razorback student-athletes followed suit in the classroom, earning a 3.24 cumulative GPA with 107 student-athletes adding their names to Senior Walk as University of Arkansas graduates.
Razorback Athletics was also at the forefront of several key initiatives in 2019-20. In October, Nolan Richardson Court was dedicated at Bud Walton Arena. The Eddie Sutton Men’s Basketball Practice gymnasium was created at the Basketball Performance Center.
In 2018-19, Arkansas finished No. 23 in the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup, including finishing first among programs with 19 or fewer teams. Arkansas captured two NCAA team championships (women’s indoor and outdoor track & field), four SEC team championships (women’s cross country, women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, men’s golf) and four SEC team runner-up finishes (soccer, men’s cross country, men’s indoor track & field and women’s basketball).
In addition, the Razorback Baseball team won a share of the SEC Western Division title and advanced to its second straight College World Series. A total of 14 programs were nationally ranked during 2018-19, including five in the top 10. Arkansas had four NCAA individual and 22 SEC individual champions.
Razorback student-athletes continued to achieve at a high level in the classroom, posting a cumulative GPA of 3.24. The program graduated 98% of student-athletes who exhausted their athletic eligibility.
In 2018-19, Arkansas hosted its first NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships at Blessings Golf Club. In addition, Arkansas was home to the 2019 SEC Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships as well as both an NCAA Baseball Regional and Super Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Yurachek launched several initiatives to further engage Arkansas and Razorback fans around the world. In August 2018, as part of the One Razorback campaign, the inaugural One Hog Call event was held in Fayetteville, Little Rock and around the globe. Razorback fans from more than 16 countries and 40 states participated in a simultaneous Hog Call.
Yurachek’s first full year in Fayetteville saw tremendous success. Arkansas tied a program record with a No. 16 finish in the 2017-18 Learfield Sports Directors Cup, and first in the nation among schools with 19 or fewer sports.
In 2017-18, Arkansas captured four SEC championships (men’s and women’s cross country, women’s indoor track, women’s golf), including the school’s first SEC crown in women’s golf. The Razorbacks earned three top-five national finishes including national championship runner-up finishes at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships and the 2018 College World Series. Four Arkansas student-athletes earned individual national championships.
In the 2018 spring semester, Razorback student-athletes earned a record-tying 3.25 GPA and 282 student-athletes secured a spot on the department honor roll. Nearly 125 Razorback student-athletes added their name to Senior Walk as graduates of the University of Arkansas.
Yurachek came to Arkansas from the University of Houston where he served as the vice president for athletics. Prior to Houston, Yurachek served as Director of Athletics at Coastal Carolina University, where Coastal won 29 Big South Conference championships. Yurachek was named Under Armor FCS Athletic Director of the Year in 2014. He has also worked at the University of Akron, the University of Virginia, Western Carolina University, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University.
In Yurachek’s first two years at Houston, the Cougars’ sport programs eclipsed 225 points in the Learfield Directors’ Cup in back-to-back years for the first time in department history, securing top-three finishes in The American Athletic Conference both years. Houston’s programs combined for a league-leading five American Conference team championships and 22 American Conference individual titles.
The success was not limited to the field of play, however, as UH student-athletes placed 96 and 109 student-athletes on the Dean’s List in the fall and spring semesters, respectively. Houston student-athletes combined for the highest spring GPA (2.95), highest cumulative GPA following a spring semester (2.93) and the highest average hours passed in a spring semester (14.1) in department history.
The 2016-17 year also saw the continuation of an aggressive facilities plan as construction began on the $60 million renovation of the Fertitta Center, the football indoor practice facility and a baseball player development center and clubhouse with more than $85 million of projects all privately funded.
In his first year in the role, Houston recorded its highest finish in the Learfield Directors’ Cup since 1999-2000 and its second-highest finish in school history with 296.5 points to finish 73rd nationally. The 2015-16 academic year saw the Houston Football program capture The American Athletic Conference Championship and a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win over Florida State, the Houston Men’s Track & Field program win The American Indoor and Outdoor Championships and the Houston Women’s Golf program claim an American Championship in only its second year with a full team. In addition, the Men’s Basketball program returned to the NCAA postseason for the 29th time in program history and the Men’s Golf program advanced to the NCAA Championships for the third straight year.
All of the athletic achievements occurred while UH student-athletes recorded the second-best fall GPA, 2.91, and second-best spring GPA, 2.87, in athletic department history while placing a record 88 student-athletes on the University’s Dean’s Honor List in the spring.
Yurachek led the Houston Athletics fundraising charge with a record amount $5.2 million in private donations to the Athletics general scholarship fund in the 2014-15 fiscal year. Focused on improving the student-athlete experience, Yurachek also led a department that unveiled the completed Guy V. Lewis Development Center for the Houston Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs, Carolyn and Ron Yokubaitis Field at Carl Lewis International Track & Field Complex, one of the nation’s largest collegiate baseball video boards, a renovated Houston Football locker room and a short game facility for the Houston Men’s and Women’s Golf programs.
Named by Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator as Chair for a campus-wide steering committee established to oversee the grand opening events for the $128 million TDECU Stadium, Yurachek assisted in the cultivation, solicitation and securing of a 10-year, $15 million-naming rights agreement for TDECU Stadium with the per year value ranking in the top ten nationally for collegiate venue naming rights agreements.
Yurachek was instrumental in the national search and hiring of football and men and women’s basketball head coaches (Tom Herman, Kelvin Sampson, Ronald Hughey) while overseeing the development and implementation of a $500,000 remodeling project to the men and women’s basketball locker rooms.
He served as liaison with an architectural design firm on the plans for the $25-million Guy V. Lewis Development Center as well as overseeing the development and implementation of a $500,000 facility enhancement to the Athletics/Alumni Center, including the addition of Cougar Cafe, a student-athlete nutrition center.
Yurachek came to Houston after serving four years as Director of Athletics at Coastal Carolina University where he oversaw a department featuring 18 men’s and women’s NCAA Division I sport programs. A testament of his vision, Yurachek was named the 2014 Under Armour FCS Athletic Director of the Year in May of 2014.
Under Yurachek’s leadership, the Chanticleers won a total of 29 Big South Championships (both regular season and tournament championships), made 30 NCAA appearances and finished a program-best 79th in the 2012-13 Learfield Director’s Cup.
During Yurachek’s time of leadership, Coastal hosted an NCAA Baseball Regional; NCAA Baseball Super Regional; NCAA Division I Football championship contests in 2010 and ‘13; and NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship matches in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13, as well as winning a competitive bid to host the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Men’s and Women’s Big South Basketball Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015, sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Coastal Carolina student-athletes posted a 3.028 grade point average (GPA) for the fall 2013 semester and saw its overall GPA rise from 3.053 to 3.108. Of the 434 student-athletes, 253 – or 58.3 percent – posted a GPA between 4.0 and 3.0, including 28 who earned President’s List (4.0 GPA for the semester) and an additional 117 who earned Dean’s List recognition.
In addition, during Yurachek’s tenure Coastal Carolina student-athletes earned:
- 363 All-Big South honors
- 31 All-Big South Player of the Year honors along with 13 Big South Freshman of the Year honors
- 28 All-America honors
- 11 Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in their respective sports
- 5 Academic All-America honors
- 4 national postgraduate scholarships
- 3 Big South Conference Christenberry Awards for Academic Excellence
With all the success, the Coastal Carolina department operated within a balanced budget during Yurachek’s tenure, thanks to his zero-budget initiative and the unprecedented revenues generated since his arrival with his restructuring of the external relations department. In his first year, the department revenue was at $560,000, including $316,000 in ticket sales and sponsorships at $250,000. After the 2012-13 year, revenue came in at $1.4 million, thanks to $549,000 in ticket sales and $600,000 in sponsorships.
Since 2010, the Department of Athletics added women’s lacrosse; launched Champions for Life, a life skills enhancement program for student-athletes; signed a five-year $1.1 million contract with an athletic apparel provider; established the Letterwinners Association; successfully completed NCAA Cycle 3 Recertification; and has been featured on the front page of the sports section of USA Today with the headline reading “Coastal Carolina Piles up Sports Success.”
Also, during Yurachek’s tenure, several major projects that supported intercollegiate athletics totaling more than $250 million were included in the University’s ongoing capital improvements across the campus.
Prior to his appointment at Coastal Carolina University, Yurachek was executive senior associate athletics director at the University of Akron. He led and managed the Zips’ external relations unit, which included marketing and promotions, media relations, ticket operations, development (Z-Fund), video operations and merchandising. In addition, he was the sport administrator for men’s basketball, men’s golf and women’s golf and worked closely with the football program.
Yurachek has also held various athletics administration leadership positions at the University of Virginia, Western Carolina University, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management at Guilford College in 1990, where he was a four-year letter winner in basketball. He earned his master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Richmond in 1994.
Born in Richmond, Va., and raised in Charlotte, N.C., Yurachek, and his wife Jennifer have three sons: Ryan, Jake and Brooks. Ryan, a former Marshall University football student-athlete, is a quality control analyst on the football staff at the University of South Carolina. Ryan and his wife Morgan reside in Columbia, S.C. Jake is a University of Arkansas graduate and former Razorback football student-athlete and now works within intercollegiate athletics at SMU. Brooks is a freshman at Wake Forest University where he is a member of Demon Deacons football team.