FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Frank Broyles, who guided the University of Arkansas to its lone national football championship and later molded the overall program as its athletic director, died Monday at the age of 92.
Broyles died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a statement from his family. “He passed peacefully in his home surrounded by his loved ones,” the statement said.
Broyles won almost 71 percent of his games as head football coach with the Razorbacks for 19 years. He became the school’s athletic director in 1974 while still the football coach, eventually retiring from the gridiron to focus on administrative duties following the 1976 season.
As athletic director, Broyles led an overhaul and upgrade of Arkansas’ facilities — as well as leading the school in its move to the Southeastern Conference. Following his coaching career, Broyles — who earned a spot in the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame — served as an analyst on ABC’s college football telecasts.
While his coaching record of 144-48-5 defined the first part of his career, Broyles’ legacy at Arkansas is every bit equaled by his work as athletic director.
Arkansas’ athletic facilities underwent a near-complete overhaul following the school’s move from the Southwest Conference to the SEC in 1991.
Broyles’ spearheaded the fundraising efforts that led to the construction of Bud Walton Arena, the renovation of and additions to Razorback Stadium and the building of Baum Stadium. He also guided the school as it built indoor and outdoor tracks, a tennis facility and the athletic administrative complex that bears his name.
Broyles was known for his ability to identify top coaches, both head coaches and assistants.
He was responsible for the hiring of basketball coaches Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson as well as Lou Holtz and Ken Hatfield in football. Broyles also hired former great John McDonnell in track.
McDonnell won 40 national championships with the Razorbacks, while Richardson led Arkansas to the 1994 national championship in men’s basketball.
Broyles retired as athletic director in 2007, moving into a fundraising role with the school’s Razorback Foundation until his retirement from that role in 2014.
“For the past 56 years, I have had the privilege or working in the only job I ever wanted — to be the head football coach and then the athletic director of the Razorbacks,” Broyles said at the time. “The Razorbacks have always been my passion.”
He spent much of his time later in life attending various Arkansas sporting events and raising money for Alzheimer’s awareness after the 2004 death of his wife, Barbara, following a battle with the disease.
He started the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation CareGivers United, an Alzheimer’s education organization, and wrote a book that published more than 800,000 copies and focused on helping those who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
“In 50 years, people are going to look back and that’s what they are going to remember him for, his second legacy,” said Broyles’ daughter, Betsy Arnold.
Under Broyles as coach, the Razorbacks won or shared seven Southwest Conference football titles and went to 10 bowl games.
That included a win over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl following the 1964 regular season, which left the Razorbacks 11-0. Alabama was also undefeated entering the bowl season and was named the national champion by The Associated Press poll, but the Crimson Tide lost its bowl game to Texas — leading to Arkansas being named the champion by the Football Writers Association of America.
The Associated Press poll soon thereafter changed its policy and began naming its champion following the bowl games.
Several prominent football figures were members of the undefeated 1964 football team, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, former Miami Hurricanes and Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson and Hatfield.
“He’s a life teacher,” Jones told The Associated Press in 2014. “He always spoke about football as it related to life ... All things pointed to life’s lessons.”
One of Broyles’ first moves as athletic director was the hiring of Sutton, the coaching great who took over a struggling basketball program and turned it into a national power.
Following Sutton’s departure, Broyles once again struck coaching gold with the hiring of Richardson — though the two strong personalities later clashed when Richardson was fired in 2002 and claimed he was a victim of racial discrimination, a lawsuit that was eventually ruled without merit.
At Decatur, Georgia, Broyles was a star in football, basketball and baseball. He won 10 letters in those three sports at Georgia Tech and was the All-SEC quarterback in 1944 and 1946.
He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1947 with an industrial management degree and turned down professional football and baseball offers before he accepted a position on Bob Woodruff’s staff at Baylor.
After a year as an assistant at Florida, Broyles returned to Georgia Tech as the offensive backfield coach and the Yellowjackets won 31 straight.
In 1957, Broyles was hired as head coach at Missouri and guided the Tigers to a 5-4-1 record. The following January, Arkansas athletic director John Barnhill offered Broyles the Arkansas job vacated by Jack Mitchell.
Broyles’ first team started 0-6 and finished 4-6. Only one other time did the Razorbacks finish below .500 under Broyles.
A couple dozen of Broyles’ players or assistants became head coaches, leading to the creation of the annual Broyles Award — giving to the nation’s top assistant coach — in his honor.
Broyles had four sons and two daughters with his first wife, Barbara, and later remarried Gen Whitehead in late 2005.
“I will forever be grateful for the generosity, graciousness and unwavering support he extended to me when I came to the University of Arkansas,” current Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire Razorback nation are with his wife Gen, his children and the entire Broyles family.”