No matter how you look at it, Frank Broyles is a titan in Arkansas sports history.
As head football coach, he led the Razorbacks to their only national championship in 1964, cementing the program’s place among the nation’s elite. As athletic director, he helped guide other sports – notably basketball, baseball and track – into that same echelon.
Along the way, Broyles has been praised for the good he has done off the field. He hired Nolan Richardson, the first black basketball coach of any major college in the South. Aside from tirelessly supporting Razorback athletics, has been an outspoken advocate for Alzheimer’s research and improved care for seniors.
But one area Broyles in which has stayed quiet is his role supervising Darrell Brown, the Razorbacks’ first black football player. In 1965-66, Brown suffered physical and verbal abuse from teammates and coaches while trying to earn a spot on the Hogs’ varsity squad. Razorbacks athletic director Jeff Long officially acknowledged Brown for his perseverance on Saturday.
For decades, Broyles was the most prominent face of Razorbacks sports. He has consistently stayed quiet when given the chance to publically comment on Brown’s ordeal, to apologize on behalf of the UA for his treatment. Author Rus Bradburd asked him to comment multiple times (not just about Brown, but also Nolan Richardson) and he apparently declined or did not get the message each time. In 2010, Broyles told a radio news director he had never heard of Bradburd despite those multiple attempts. In the last month, the UA didn’t make Broyles available for a Yahoo Sports article about Brown, citing his age of 86.
Darrell Brown told Sync’s Evin Demirel he didn’t expect or want an apology from Broyles. He added, though, he hoped people didn’t use the cultural climate of earlier times as an excuse. [Read more here.] At the same time many Arkansas fans, learning about Broyles’ role in Brown’s story for the first time, have expressed a deep disappointment in the silence from an historic figure whom the UA will likely one day build a statue of on campus.
“Was disappointed to hear [Broyles] had no comment over this story and offered no sort of apology,” wrote “dacskc” on the Razorbacks message board Hogvillle.net. “I know things were different then, and he’s an old man now…but how hard is it to say “I’m sorry?”
What do you think?