University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema was fired on Friday following a 48-45 loss to Missouri and capping a 4-8 season.
Interim athletics director Julie Cromer Peoples notified Bielema shortly after he left the field following the season-ending loss.
“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” Cromer Peoples said in a statement. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas.”
Bielema’s five-year record at Arkansas was 29-34, including an 11-29 record in the Southeastern Conference. Earlier this month, UA Athletic Director Jeff Long was dismissed from his post, a foreshadowing of Bielema’s expected exit.
“There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally,” Cromer Peoples said.
Bielema was named the 32nd head coach in program history in December 2012 when he left a successful head coaching position at the University of Wisconsin. Under his direction at the UA, the football program was never cited for any major lapses or violations.
“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally,” Cromer Peoples added. “I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”
On Friday, an advisory committee was named to assist Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz in the search for a new athletic director.
UPDATE: In a press conference around 7:45 p.m., Cromer Peoples said there will not be a search committee to pursue a new head coach. She said she will “be running point” on the search for Bielema’s replacement.
Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads will serve as interim coach. She added that no other coaches have been terminated as of this evening.