Community Reacts to Former Fayetteville AD’s Arrest

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The investigation continues into the former Fayetteville Athletic Director who was arrested by the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Benton County investigators say Barry Gebhart planned to meet an underage girl.

Gebhart graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1981 and had worked for the school district for more than two decades.

Tom Alford is part of the FHS Class of 1973. He's in Fayetteville visiting from Arizona for his 40th high school reunion.

"It shocks everybody in the community," said Alford.

Alford said most of high school reunion was spent talking about work and family. However, he said, Gebhart's arrest came up just a few times.

"Might have been two or three people," Alford said. "If you mentioned it, people knew about it and they've seen it on the news."

Gebhart was arrested in connection with internet stalking of a child after an undercover investigation. According to investigators, he arranged a meeting with a 14-year old girl. Cyber crimes division posed as the girl on the social media site Whisper.

"I thought it was sad to hear that somebody that's involved with the youth, that's probably come up through the ranks and been a part of the community for a long time had this situation," Alford said.

Alford's sister Toni Thorn graduated from FHS in 1966. She's a counselor for the Rogers School District.

"He had such a great reputation and was so well thought of in the community and you just never expect this kind of thing to happen," Thorn said.

In the meantime, Benton County investigators are combing through electronic data including Gebhart's cell phone records.

"Shocked and feeling very sad for the family and friends that are really going to suffer the consequences of his actions," Thorn said.

Gebhart is out on a $75,000 bond and a judge ordered him not to have electronic devices.

Alford said, "In this society we live in you're innocent until proven guilty so I'm sure he needs to be allowed that privilege."

The Fayetteville School District plans to meet next week to see who will replace Gebhart after he resigned. He's next scheduled to be in court in Benton County December 2nd.

Click here to read more on Gebhart's case.


  • hogfan

    Same thing happened “back in the day” when coaches tried to “get with” their female BB players. Don’t believe me? Ask some of the women who played back in the 60’s and 70’s. Only difference now is the fact that technology has advanced to where we find out.

  • NotShocked

    The people saying that the community is shocked are obviously part of an older community. I graduated from FHS in the early 2000s and almost everyone I’ve talked about this situation with is not shocked at all. He was always creepy and overly interested in the female students and their “academics” without showing concern for male students struggling with grades. I remember him ALWAYS having female students in his office during school. I also specifically remember one instance at an away basketball game where my girlfriend felt uncomfortable because Gebhardt was lingering around the cheerleaders while they were stretching instead of paying attention to the basketball team which was warming up at the time. Pair these behaviors with his overall arrogant demeanor and I’ve yet to find anyone near my age range that is truly shocked by this. Appalled and disturbed, yes but not shocked.

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