University of Arkansas Extends Jeff Long's Contract to 2017

The University of Arkansas has extended Athletic Director Jeff Long's contract by two years to June 30, 2017, increased his base pay to $500,000 per year, and given him a $50,000 bonus.

UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart outlined Long's contract extension and salary increase in a term letter dated Oct. 23 (PDF). Arkansas Business obtained a copy of the letter Friday under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Long's $50,000 increase in base pay is retroactive to the start of the current fiscal year. The $50,000 bonus will be paid before Dec. 31.

"As I shared with you during your annual evaluation earlier this year, I am very appreciative of your outstanding leadership of the Athletics Department, particularly during very challenging times, and your commitment to the University of Arkansas," Gearhart stated in his letter to Long.

Gearhart also said he would request that the nonprofit Razorback Foundation increase Long's supplement pay by at least $70,000. And he increased the special achievement bonuses set out in Long's original contract. Achieving four of seven performance objectives will result in a $250,000 payment to the athletic director. Meeting three of seven will pay Long $187,500.

The letter also outlined buyout payments should Long decide to leave the university before his contract expires. Long would owe the UA $1 million should he leave the university in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 fiscal years. In 2014-2014, that amount falls to $500,000. The next year, the amount falls to $250,000 and finally $100,000 in the final year of the contract.

Long ranked No. 5 on Arkansas Business' most recent list of the state's highest-paid employees, published in October. Long's fiscal 2012 compensation schedule is available on page 152 of this document (PDF).

Long has been under pressure as the Razorbacks football team fell from being a top 10 favorite with BCS championship hopes to Southeastern Conference also-rans. Long fired head Coach Bobby Petrino in April after Petrino lied about circumstances surrounding a motorcycle wreck. 

Long hired former assistant football coach John L. Smith to lead the team during the 2012 season. Smith later filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, facing $40 million in liabilities tied to real estate investments gone bad in Kentucky, and he has overseen one of the most disappointing runs in Razorbacks history. 

Long is now seeking a new coach for the football team, a choice many say is crucial to the long-term future of the program.