BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: New Hog Foundation Hire Has Had Whirlwind Year

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Dec. 1, 2008 12:00 am  

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Pick a job within the Arkansas athletic department and there's a chance Dr. Sean Rochelle has held it.

Named last month as an associate director for the Razorback Foundation, Rochelle seems to have done it all for the Razorbacks. He's worked in development. He's acted as an academic counselor. Rochelle also served as a graduate assistant football coach under former Razorback coach Ken Hatfield.

It was nearly three years ago that Rochelle, an Elkins native and a former star quarterback at Arkansas-Monticello, returned to Northwest Arkansas for what he hopes is for good. Rochelle previously served five years at Asuza Pacific where he chaired the department of exercise and sport science, among other things.

Rochelle came back to serve as the director of development for Lady Razorback athletics. When the men's and women's athletic operations were merged by Jeff Long earlier this year, Rochelle took on the fund-raising role for the entire department.

Highly decorated as an academic and athlete, Rochelle was twice an all-American quarterback at UAM. He went on to earn his master's degree at Arkansas in 1989 and returned to get his doctorate in 1999.

These days Rochelle, who lives in Elkins with his wife, Caroline, and daughters, Abigail and Ellison, is focusing his attention on the Razorback Foundation. He assumed a position with the athletic department's private fund-raising arm in November.

Rochelle moved into associate director's role when Chuck Dicus was removed as Foundation president. Harold Horton was then promoted by the Foundation board to be the executive director, opening a spot for Rochelle.

Read on to find out why Rochelle has The Best Seat in the House:

AS360: You've got a great story. You were working in development for women's athletics this time last year, took over that role for the entire athletic department when they combined and now are part of the Razorback Foundation. That's a pretty good year, huh?

Rochelle: That was quite a whirlwind sequence of events. Like anything else, I think a lot of it comes down to timing. You can't predict the timing or the opportunity. I feel really blessed to be down here. As a kid growing up outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas, as a young man who was a graduate assistant coach and came back to work in academic support for athletics, to be involved in any way is a privilege. I mean that sincerely. I try to remind myself every day, "Hey. You work for Razorback athletics." It fires you up to go anywhere in the state and share stories and experiences. For me, every step along this way has been a dream come true. A lot of things can happen when you're in the right place at the right time and you work hard.

I would not be down here if Jeff Long had not given me an opportunity. He afforded me some great opportunities, but even with that, if it wasn't for [executive director Harold] Horton and the [Foundation] board offering me the opportunity, I still wouldn't be down here [in the Razorback Foundation offices]. So I have great appreciation for Coach Horton showing confidence in me. There are a lot of people who would like to be down here. I'm fired up and thankful to be here. I don't take it for granted.

Some folks seem to be a bit leery of new athletic director Jeff Long because he isn't a Southerner. You worked for a time in California [at Azusa Pacific]. Can you relate at all to what Long is going through?

I do kind of empathize with Jeff on a lot of that. I challenge anybody who has ever left Arkansas; if you ever left the South, think of the perception of Arkansans that is out there. It's a perception that we don't appreciate. It's a motivating factor to make sure you represent the state well. Hey, Arkansas is a beautiful state. We've got incredible people. We've got great resources. We're deserving of better sometimes than the perception that people have of us. That word "perception" is important. Certainly on the West Coast there are perceptions of being an Arkansan. So, yes. I empathize with that. ... People say perception is reality. Sometimes perception doesn't really have a lot of substance. I wish people would think about that before they rush to judgment.



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