If there was any doubt about just how big sports are in Arkansas, you might have noticed the appointment of Razorback athletics director Hunter Yurachek to the state’s Economic Recovery Task Force.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the formation of the task force at a press conference Saturday regarding the current shutdown caused by the COVID19 pandemic.
The task force was created by an executive order from Hutchinson with representatives from various fields instrumental in the health of the Arkansas economy.
The task force is chaired by Steuart Walton and includes three Arkansas cabinet secretaries: Wes Ward (Agriculture), Mike Preston (Commerce) and Stacy Hurst (Parks, Heritage and Tourism).
Hutchinson said he anticipates the first meeting of the task force will be next week.
“It is an honor and privilege for me to serve our state and my fellow Arkansans as a part of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force,” Yurachek said in a statement from the UA. “I sincerely appreciate Governor Hutchinson appointing me to be part of the team to help address the economic challenges our state faces as part of this global health emergency.
“Razorback Athletics has always played an important role in bringing our state together, especially in difficult times. When it is determined to be safe to resume Razorback events, we look forward to the opportunity to not only raise the spirits of Arkansans, but also play a substantial role in contributing to the revitalization of the Arkansas economy.”
An economic study commissioned in 2015, estimated that Razorback Athletics’ economic impact to the state is more than $160 million annually. That’s in addition to the revenue generated by athletics itself.
“We have 26 to 27 members (on the task force) that are designated in the Executive Order,” Hutchinson said. “They are primarily representing different fields of our economy. Whether it is agriculture, whether it is outdoor recreation or whether it is sports, and sports is a part of our economy.
“They will be represented in this task force, as well as the small businessperson, represented through the National Federation of Independent Business, having representative there, the retail associations will be on there, on and on down the list really every aspect of our economy.
“The expectation of this task force is that they will meet in their industry group and will look at their own guidelines within their industry to see how they can, consistent with the public health requirement, allow them to expand in their industry, to open up more and to put this economy in a higher gear. But to do it in a way that is consistent with public health requirements and that gives the public confidence.”
Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.