There are bound to be a few more Razorback car window stickers around Grove, now that a Grove High School graduate, Sam Pittman is the university's head football coach. And this week the Razorback Foundation executive director, Scott Varady, spoke to Grove Rotarians and provided a few more reasons to be a Razorback fan.
Varady, a University of Arkansas graduate who went on to Georgetown to earn his law degree, calls athletics the "front porch of any university." He heads the Razorback Foundation which supports student-athletes. He says the foundation has never taken any state or federal money. The foundation provides support for athletes through scholarships, academic support, training and nutrition, the cost of attendance, professional and personal development, and facilities and equipment. But it also donates about $3 million a year to the University itself.
Varady noted that during the last school year 264 student-athletes had a GPA of more than 3.0. In fact, the cumulative GPA was 3.24. The university has 19 varsity teams, 364 student-athletes and the athletic programs employ between 300 and 350 people.
Varady said, "The last two seasons were the worst seasons for football." That he lamented means it is harder to raise funds for the programs.
However, he is optimistic about the future with Pittman's return. Sam Pittman is the 34th head coach in Razorback history and returns to the university after four seasons on staff at Georgia, including this last season when he served as the Associate Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach for the Bulldogs.
Pittman gives credit to his Grove High School Coach Charlie Cooper for his toughness. Pittman was a tailback who transferred into Grove his junior year. He was a multi-sport athlete including being a state champion shot-putter. At Pittsburg State, he was an outside linebacker and was an All-American.
Varady said that there are three ways that people can support the foundation. A grassroots program called One Razorback can be joined for as little as $10 a year. A Small Business program can be supported with a minimum contribution of $100 a year. The larger donor fund is called the Cardinal and White Fund which requires a $25,000 contribution.
Varady noted that the University is only 75 miles from Grove. "The Foundation "makes life-changing experiences for our student-athletes. We provide the very best resources to help students excel."
The Foundation can be reached online at RazorbackFoundation.com or by calling 479-443-9000.