The University of Arkansas hasn’t had a lot to smile about this month.
At the very beginning of April, the school’s then-head football coach, Bobby Petrino, got into a pretty bad motorcycle accident. Eventually, as a result of that accident, it came out that he had been having a lengthy, unreported affair with a female co-worker named Jessica Dorrell.
Further investigations indicated that Petrino gave Dorrell all sorts of preferential treatment and that the initial hiring process didn’t jive with school protocol. Finally, the whole saga seemingly came to a swift and embarrassing conclusion when athletic director Jeff Long was essentially forced to fire Petrino.
And so, as it currently stands – an SEC school has nobody to lead it into next year and is reeling from about as humiliating an offseason as you could possibly have.
This past Wednesday, though, the Razorbacks’ luck seemingly changed. Apparently, in response to the school doing what was right and giving Petrino the boot, the Donald W. Reynolds foundation decided to donate $1 million to Arkansas for its Student-Athlete Success Center.
"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 (via Yahoo! Sports). "Mr. Long acted with integrity and with the best interests of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas in mind."
It remains to be seen whether or not Petrino’s transgressions and subsequent firing negatively impacts the football program this year, but it’s nice to see Arkansas faithful getting behind the school. A million dollar donation is great, obviously, but the fact that it was made is almost as important as the hefty dollar amount itself. It indicates that folks are rallying behind Long's decision – and that will translate into overwhelming support for the team when it takes the field next year.
Note: Tune in on Tuesday to the Bottom Line Sports Show as they talk all things NFL and have one lucky NFL Draft prospect on to discuss what the future holds.