Bobby Petrino: Hefty Donation Proves Arkansas Still in Good Shape
Usually, when a college sports program undergoes turmoil—similar to what Arkansas recently endured following the Bobby Petrino scandal—donations tend to slow down. That hasn't been the case for the Razorbacks, however, as a $1 million gift proves the program remains in good shape.
Erick Smith of USA Today reports the Donald W. Reynolds foundation pledged $1 million to the school for an athlete success center. Its founder, Fred Smith, also donated $250,000 of his own money after athletic director Jeff Long decided to fire Petrino.
"The courageous leadership demonstrated by Jeff Long in the course of recent events has further affirmed our confidence in his leadership and his vision for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Arkansas," Smith said in a statement. "Mr. Long acted with integrity and with the best interests of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas in mind."
There were wide-ranging opinions about what Arkansas should have done after Petrino withheld information about his now infamous motorcycle accident. Staff member and former Razorbacks volleyball star Jessica Dorrell was riding with Petrino at the time.
Instead of dragging the process out, which happens far too often during times of scandal at every level of sports, Long made the swift call to relieve Petrino of his duties. Apparently, that was good enough to earn the school a total of $1.25 million in new funding.
Does the large donation surprise you?
It's an important step for Arkansas to show other potential donors that the program continues to move in the right direction. Finding another coach with a track record of college success like Petrino's won't be easy, but it's still an elite job.
When coaching candidates see people are still being supportive after everything that's occurred over the past few weeks, it should help alleviate any concerns they might have. If the school can get such a hefty donation in trying times, the sky's the limit if a winning tradition can get built by the new head man.
Some may argue $1.25 million really isn't that much when you consider how much money gets poured into college. However, when you take into account the positive headlines it garners along with the money itself, the impact becomes much larger than purely dollars and cents.
Above all else, it sends a clear message that the Arkansas program won't take a major step back because of the scandal. The school wants to move past it as quickly as possible, and that plan has been working to perfection so far.
The major donation was simply icing on the cake.
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