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Hunter Yurachek leaves University of Houston to become athletic director at Arkansas

HOUSTON – Arkansas has hired Houston's Hunter Yurachek as its new athletic director, a person with direct knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press.

Yurachek replaces Jeff Long, who was fired on Nov. 15 for losing the faith of school's leadership following a six-year downturn in the football program. The person spoke Monday on the condition of anonymity because the decision hasn't been made public yet.

"Hunter has helped us build on our nationally competitive athletics program on the field, in the classroom and by adding to our first class facilities and I wish him well. The University of Houston remains committed to our winning tradition and we will immediately begin the search for a leader who shares our desire to compete for championships at the highest level,” UH President Renu Khator said.

One of his first priorities with the Razorbacks will be to find a new football coach following the firing of Bret Bielema after the season. Julie Cromer Peoples had been serving as the interim athletic director following Long's firing.

Yurachek leaves Houston after nearly three years, where he was hired after working as the athletic director at Coastal Carolina. He previously worked at Akron and played basketball at Guilford College, where he graduated from in 1990.

Yurachek takes over what's been one of the more stable athletic director positions in all of college athletics.  Long was a part of the Razorbacks program for nearly 10 years before Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz fired him for losing the support "of many of our fans, alumni, key supporters and members of the university leadership."

Before Long, the athletic department was guided for more than 30 years by former football coach Frank Broyles, who served as the athletic director from 1974 until 2007.

Arkansas finished 4-8 this season and was 29-34 overall under Bielema, including a mark of 11-29 in the Southeastern Conference. The Razorbacks are 32-43 in their last six seasons since the firing of scandal-ridden former coach Bobby Petrino, the school's worst six-year stretch since it went 22-38 from 1948-52.

Under Yurachek and former football coach Tom Herman, Houston went 13-1 in 2015 and 9-4 in 2016 before Herman departed for Texas. Yurachek was responsible for hiring Major Applewhite as the Cougars football coach after last season, and Houston was 7-4 this season in Applewhite's first year.