The university will honor the provisions of Long's contract, which now runs through June 30, 2022.
"The decision to change leadership in our athletics department is not an easy one, and was made with great deliberation, discussion and thought, after consultation with the Board of Trustees and president (Donald) Bobbitt", Steinmetz said. He officially took over the athletic program on January 1, 2008, taking the place of Frank Broyles.
Long is known for firing Razorback football coach Bobby Petrino after an alleged extramarital affair with a former Arkansas volleyball player. The disappointing season led the university to not retain Smith as head coach and the new search began. Long hired Bielema from Wisconsin in December 2012, a move praised at the time because Bielema had won three consecutive Big Ten championships. The Razorbacks, at 4-6, must win their two remaining games against Mississippi State and Arkansas to earn bowl eligibility. "So I think they want someone who can come in and really not be okay with Arkansas winning roughly half of its SEC games".
Long said in September that he hoped to have a resolution about future of games in central Arkansas by the end of this season. He was named national AD of the year in 2013 by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
"There was, among a certain contingent of Arkansas fans, a little bit of a distaste for what they perceived as Jeff Long's desire to make Arkansas athletics more in the mold of Vanderbilt, in terms of stressing the "student" part of student athlete as opposed to Alabama, which is obviously a dominant athletic program especially in football", Demirel said.