FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – Frank Broyles was known in every corner of the state of Arkansas as he helped turn the Arkansas Razorbacks into not just a statewide brand, but a national one. On Monday (Aug. 14), the statewide legend passed away at the age of 92 from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.
From the time he walked onto the University of Arkansas campus in 1957 until the time he retired in 2007, Broyles saw the school explode in both enrollment and attraction to those around the state. When he was hired, Arkansas had just five thousand students but grew by 245 percent in his 50 years at the school.
The Broyles Family released the following statement:
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Coach Frank Broyles. He passed peacefully in his home surrounded by his loved ones.
For 92 years John Franklin Broyles lived nothing short of a remarkable life. To all who would listen, Frank Broyles was quick to proclaim, in his unmistakable and infectious southern tone, that he was blessed to live ‘A Charmed Life’.
For more than five decades, he served the University of Arkansas and all citizens of his adopted home state in his role as a coach, administrator and goodwill ambassador for his beloved Razorbacks.
We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who helped contribute to his charmed life. Whether you were one of his players, coaches, colleagues or friends, a Razorback fan or fellow caregiver, you were an integral part of his fairy tale story. To his family, he was quite simply, our hero.
We take peace in knowing that his faith was the foundation for the impact he made on the lives of others. From innumerable private moments with his family and friends, to countless public interactions with millions in his various roles, Coach Broyles shared his attitude of gratitude and encouraged others to make a difference.
We know that this remarkable man does not want us to mourn, but to celebrate the hope and inspiration he passed along to each of us. For nearly two decades, he was a trailblazer for changing the stigma around dreaded disease which took the life of his first wife, Barbara Day, and ultimately his own. We will never know the impact that writing and publishing “Coach Broyles Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers” and establishing the Broyles Foundation will have on families, but Coach considered it a win the first time it helped one person.
He was the very definition of a difference maker. It will be impossible to fill the void created by his passing. But even in our grief, our hearts are overflowing with the love, gratitude and treasured memories of the charmed life and lasting legacy of our beloved Coach.
We are planning a public celebration of his life. Once the details are finalized we will share them with you.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.”
Jeff Long followed Broyles as the Arkansas athletic direct and issued the following statement on Monday:
“The Razorback Family has lost its patriarch and Arkansas has lost one of its most beloved figures. Coach Frank Broyles was a legendary coach, athletics director, broadcaster and a tireless advocate for those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. In his more than 50 years of service to the University of Arkansas and intercollegiate athletics, his vision and leadership allowed the Razorback program to flourish and in turn enrich the lives of thousands of young men. In the process, he brought unprecedented national attention to Arkansas. His passion for the Razorbacks was infectious, his spirit was indomitable and his vision helped transform a program, a university and an entire state. His legacy in our state is unmatched.
“I will forever be grateful for the generosity, graciousness and unwavering support he extended to me when I came to the University of Arkansas. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Razorback nation are with his wife Gen, his children and the entire Broyles Family.”
Broyles wanted to build a winner as the Razorbacks played in the Southwest Conference, one of the premiere leagues in the nation at the time, but in order to do that he knew he had to grow the fan base.
“It had been just a Northwest Arkansas school so by playing in Little Rock and Orville Henry the sportswriter and all, we were able to build a fan base from West Memphis to El Dorado up to here so we can be competitive,” Broyles said. “It took the entire state coming behind the Razorbacks for us to be competitive in the Southwest Conference.”
Not only did the university grow during Broyles’ time, so did the city of Fayetteville.
“Fayetteville was about 15,000. The student body was about 5,000 but we were in the Southwest Conference and we want to be competitive,” Broyles said. “We wanted to be competitive with Texas and the teams down there.”
In the 60 seasons prior to Broyles arriving on campus, Arkansas had won just three conference championships. In his 19 years as head coach, he won seven league titles as well as two Cotton Bowl championships. In 1964, Broyles led the Razorbacks to the school’s only football national championship. Broyles finished his career with a record of 144-58-5, the most in school history. The second most wins by a coach at Arkansas is Houston Nutt with 75.
Broyles was always proud of the impact he had on all sports, not just football. When he first arrived in the late 1950’s, many in-state athletes would have to go to schools outside of Arkansas to compete in Olympic sports.
“When I was the football coach and going to be the athletic director, people would say to me ‘coach when you become athletic director can we have an all sports program?’” Broyles said. “That was my goal to build an all sports program where the fans in Arkansas could support the Razorbacks the year round. Not just football season.”
Before Broyles became athletic director in 1974, Arkansas had never won a national title outside the sport of football. During his time at the helm of the Razorbacks, Arkansas won 41.
Broyles retired as athletic director in 2007 but he never lost his love of the Hogs as he went to work for the Razorback Foundation. There, Broyles was able to travel the state and meet the fans. The same fans who helped build the school he loved into one of the best overall programs in the country.
“I love the Razorbacks and so wherever I can help them, in maintaining relationships that had been built during my time, we want to maintain these relationships for the future and also to support our program so that we can be nationally competitive in all sports,” Broyles said.
During Broyles’ time as athletics director, more than $260 million was used to upgrade facilities, that’s nearly $400 million today.
The longtime coach and athletic director started the Broyles Foundation in 2006, two years after his wife Barbara passed away after 59 yeas of marriage.
A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday (Aug. 19) at 2 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus. The service is open to the public.