University of Arkansas football ticket prices are going 

up and so is UA athletics director Jeff Long’s public confidence in 

UA basketball coaches John Pelphrey and Tom Collen.

University of Arkansas football ticket prices are going 
up and so is UA athletics director Jeff Long’s public confidence in 
UA basketball coaches John Pelphrey and Tom Collen.

Long was the featured speaker at Tuesday’s gathering of the Northwest 
Arkansas Tip-Off Club at the Springdale Holiday Inn.

During a post-speech Q and A, he was asked about football ticket prices.

“We’re in the process of finalizing ticket prices,” Long said. “There 
will be some type of increase coming up. We need that to support our 

Long said it’s too early to determine if there will be a raise in 
men’s basketball season ticket prices.

Deferring that decision seems understandable.  Attendance  at Walton 
Arena is down after Pelphrey’s Razorbacks went 2-14 in the SEC last 
season.  This season they are 8-9 overall under their third-year 
coach. Arkansas started the season awash in off the court issues 
requiring multiple disciplinary suspensions and behind the NCAA’s APR 
(academic progress rate) dating back to the six seniors Pelphrey 
inherited two seasons ago from coach Stan Heath not yet graduating.

However in their last three games, Pelphrey’s Hogs, 1-1 in the SEC 
going into Thursday night’s game with Florida at Walton, played No. 2 
Texas close until their final nonconference game’s final 1:50, 
battled 15-point favorite Mississippi State to the wire losing 82-80  
in the SEC opener at Starkville, Miss. and then defeated Alabama, 
71-59 last Saturday at Walton.

All good, Long said. But he said Pelphrey would be his man regardless.

“I want to take this opportunity,” Long said in his address, “ to say 
even more clearly from what I thought I clearly stated before the 
victory over Alabama. And that is I support John Pelphrey and what he 
is doing with our basketball program.”

Long had to pause for applause which he said he appreciated.

“I believe in John,” Long said. “I believe he deserves the time to 
build the basketball program the right way.”

According to Long, the “right way is a program that has discipline. 
It has accountability. It has a commitment to academic success and a 
commitment to personal growth and development of the young people in 
the program, and it certainly means a commitment to winning in 
basketball. I think previous to winning, you have to get those things 
in place before you can have long term winning in your program on and 
off the court.”

Long said Pelphrey inherited problems “inhibiting success.”  Long 
said those areas are being addressed and that Pelphrey needs “a 
reasonable amount of time”  to “develop the program.”

An attending booster asked, “What’s a reasonable amount of time?”
“It’s not this year and it’s not next year,” Long replied. “So that’s 
a reasonable amount of time. That would be four years and certainly 
that evaluation goes on all the time.”

Asked afterwards by media about the four years and reasonable amount 
of time, Long replied, “What I am saying is don’t try to tie me down 
to this year and next year. We are going to continue to evaluate the 
program. Those people who have asked questions like they have 
earlier, ‘Are you going to change a coach in the middle of a season?’ 
Absolutely not!  John has our commitment. He came here and accepted a 
program that had some issues that needed to be overcome. We are 
working on those things and he needs the time to build a program. I’m 
not saying it’s this year or next year - we evaluate the program 
after every year - but John has our support.  I expect him to be here 
this year and well beyond this year.”

Third-year coach Collen inherited a program that had won games and 
won fans under Gary Blair, still winning games and fans at Texas A&M, 
but did little of either for four years under Susie Gardner, Blair’s 

Collen, a former Arkansas assistant to Blair and hugely successful 
head coach at Colorado State, (129-33 for five years with four NCAA 
Tournaments including a Sweet Sixteen, and a WNIT) and Louisville 
(88-37 for four years with three NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) finds 
his team struggling 0-5 in the SEC and fans often attending by the 
hundreds and not the thousands.

“They are a young team,” Long said in his address. “Coach Collen has 
been successful everywhere he’s been.  I think Tom is doing it the 
right way. We are off to a terrible start in the SEC. But I think our 
best basketball is in front of us.”