Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long is expected to accept an offer from University of Arkansas Chancellor John White to be the school's new athletic director, a university source told Hawgs Illustrated publisher Clay Henry on Friday night.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said White's tight-lipped search to find Arkansas' next athletic director has come to an end.
Broyles, the face of Arkansas' athletic program during his nearly 50 years as a football coach and athletic director, announced on Feb. 17 that he'll retire at the end of the year. His final day will be Dec. 31.
White said in late May that he wanted to hire a new athletic director by early October, so the individual could work closely with Broyles through the end of the year.
A private plane registered to Arkansas' Board of Trustees left Fayetteville early Friday morning and flew to Pittsburgh to pick up Long and his wife, Fanny. The couple was seen boarding the plane in Pittsburgh.
Local TV station KHOG aired footage of Long as he exited the plane shortly after it landed at Drake Field around 10 a.m. Friday. He was expected to meet with White, who quietly has been heading the search to find Broyles' replacement.
"Jeff Long is a strong candidate for the AD position and that's about the only information there is. He was in Fayetteville today," said Stanley Reed, who is the chairman of Arkansas' Board of Trustees. "... That's about all I really need to say. We don't have an announcement, but he is a strong candidate for the job."
White was not in his office Friday morning, and one of his secretaries said he was not expected to return. Long didn't return a message left on his cell phone by The Morning News on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Arkansas sports information director Kevin Trainor said that no announcement is scheduled to come from the athletic department.
Sources at Pitt told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday afternoon that Long was one of three finalists for Arkansas' athletic director job. The sources could not identify the other two finalists.
Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips, a former Arkansas football player and administrator who was mentioned as an early favorite to replace Broyles, announced Aug. 23 that he wasn't a candidate.
Long has been Pitt's athletic director since May 2003. During his tenure, he has unveiled a new Olympic sports weight room and hired former NFL coach Dave Wannstedt to coach the Panthers' football team.
Long is in the final year of his contract at Pitt.
In late May, Long and Pitt were close to completing a contract extension that would keep him with the Panthers for at least a few more years. But the negotiations fell through.
Prior to going to Pitt, Long spent more than two years as the senior associate athletic director at the University of Oklahoma. Reed said Long got a chance to visit Arkansas' campus during his time with the Sooners.
White has made a conscious effort over the past few months to not let any information about his search for a new athletic director to become public. He has made sure not to write any memos or exchange any e-mails, which could be obtained through Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act.
"I'm hoping within two weeks we'll have an athletic director, and that's pretty well in line with Chancellor White's timetable that he set out," Reed said. "I'm definitely confident in that.
"I would think that in two weeks we will have an athletic director."
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