FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas has hired former University of Houston athletic director Hunter Yurachek for the same position with the Razorbacks.
Arkansas announced the move Monday afternoon, but the school has yet to schedule a news conference to formally introduce Yurachek.
Yurachek began his AD stint at Houston in April 2015. He joined the school’s athletic department in February 2014, as associated vice president and chief operating officer for athletics. He became athletic director when predecessor Mack Rhoads left to take the same job at Missouri.
Yurachek is familiar with hiring coaches. He hired former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman as the Cougars’ head football coach in December 2014 and promoted Cougars offensive coordinator Major Applewhite in December 2016 after Herman became head coach at Texas. Applewhite just finished his first full season, leading Houston to a 7-5 record.
Arkansas needs a head coach after then-interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples fired Bret Bielema after five seasons following the season finale against Missouri on Nov. 24. Cromer Peoples had said the university was seeking a coach who understood Arkansas culture.
It’s unclear whether Applewhite would be a candidate for the Arkansas job or how large a role Yurachek will have in hiring the next coach. School officials had been running searches for both athletic director and coach simultaneously. Following the agreement on a contract extension between Auburn and coach Gus Malzahn, whom the Razorbacks were pursuing, the leading candidates are thought to be Mike Norvell of Memphis and Chad Morris of SMU.
It is also unclear what Cromer Peoples’ role will be going forward.
Yurachek, before Houston, served as athletic director at Coastal Carolina. He was also involved in the hiring of Herman and current men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. Sampson and the Cougars beat Arkansas over the weekend.
Yurachek replaces Jeff Long, who was fired in mid-November. Long had spent almost 10 years as Arkansas’ athletic director.
Yurachek is a native of Richmond, Virginia, and has worked in the athletic departments at Western Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia and Vanderbilt. He is a graduate of Guilford College in 1990, where he was a four-year basketball letter-winner.
Update: Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz has issued a statement on the hiring of Yurachek:
“I am thrilled to welcome Hunter to the Razorback family. He possesses the experience, the management skills and the passion to have an immediate impact on our university. I know that as Razorbacks around our state and country get to know him, they will know that we are in good hands. We welcome Hunter, Jennifer and their children to Arkansas.”