Even after being unceremoniously shown the door, Jeff Long did as he’s always done — kept it classy.
After catching a bit of a reprieve late last week, word began to surface Wednesday morning that Long had been relieved of his duties as the athletic director at Arkansas. Not long after, the university confirmed the development.
In his statement announcing the dismissal, chancellor Joseph Steinmetz praised Long’s character and integrity; in his own statement, the deposed showed just that as he thanked literally everyone connected to the athletic department he’s overseen for the last decade.
Below is Long’s goodbye to the Razorback family, presented in its very lengthy entirety:
My family and I would like to thank the University community, Fayetteville community, all of Northwest Arkansas, as well as the friends we have made across the great State of Arkansas.
My wife Fanny and I have raised two wonderful daughters in Fayetteville, one of which has her name etched in Senior Walk. For my family, this will always be home.
I want to thank our outstanding coaches for their efforts on behalf of our student-athletes. Our coaches are not only great teachers but also care deeply about our students and worked tirelessly to achieve our mission of assisting student-athletes in reaching their full potential through intercollegiate athletics. Winning was always an important part of our Mission, as was doing it the right way with honesty integrity and a focus on preparing our young athletes for the rest of their lives. Collectively, all of our coaches exemplified that mission.
In addition to our coaches, we have numerous support staff members who are outstanding in their own right, including operations, compliance, academics, nutrition, media relations, business, equipment, IT, strength & conditioning, psychologists, athletic trainers and team physicians etc. This list represents people who assist our student-athletes in competing and winning while keeping them safe, healthy and on track to reach the ultimate goal of graduation from the University of Arkansas.
To our facility and maintenance staff, I wish to say a heartfelt thank you for your dedicated service to our program. I travel to many campuses and I see firsthand other athletic departments and I know your work is second to none. I appreciate the pride you take in your work and it shows. I am sure you often feel your work goes unnoticed and unappreciated but I wanted you to know how much I notice and how much I appreciate your efforts!
I have been very fortunate to have the support of my incredible Executive and Senior Staffs made up of assistant, associate and senior associate athletic directors as well as my executive assistant. I cannot adequately express my deep appreciation for their efforts on behalf of our student-athletes and coaches. Their intelligence, energy and commitment motivated me to be the best I could be on a daily basis. These dedicated professionals were not just a part of the reason we have transformed our program, they are the reason! Thank you is not nearly enough to express my gratitude but it is the best I can offer at this time.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve under four Chancellors during my 10 years of service and to participate on their executive staffs. I wish to thank Chancellor White, Chancellor Gearhart, President Sugg and Trustee Reed for believing that I could fill the formidable shoes of Coach Broyles and Bev Lewis. I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunity to come to the University of Arkansas; it has been a 10-year labor of love.
I would also like to thank Chancellor Steinmetz and President Bobbitt for their support during their tenures and especially over the past several weeks. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with you and wish you the best as you lead the Flagship Institution and the UA System.
Most of all, I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the incredible student-athletes that I have had the sincere honor and privilege to support over my 10 years as Athletic Director. You truly are the most important piece of our program. Your success academically and athletically is beyond all else, the reason we have athletics in the University setting. Most people will never know the sacrifices you make to wear the cardinal and white. You literally push your bodies and minds to greater heights to achieve success for the Razorbacks! You have inspired me and lifted me up with your successes in and out of competition! The greatest gift an athletic administrator is given is watching as student-athletes arrive on campus and the growth that happens over the course of their education career. Four to five short years later, we all watch with abundant joy as they walk across the Graduation stage, diploma in hand and prepared to take on whatever in life comes their way!
And finally, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Razorback fans throughout our state and around the world. Your passion for this university and for this athletics program makes the University of Arkansas a very special place. I have said it on numerous occasions the Razorbacks need the entire State behind us to be successful in the SEC and nationally. I wish nothing but continued success for this program and this institution.
With regard to the media, I have always appreciated the job you do and understand your interest in speaking with me. However, I would like to take some time with my family to collect my thoughts before reflecting on my tenure here at the University of Arkansas.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve our University the last 10 years. It has been a true honor.