FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas named its outdoor track after legendary coach John McDonnell, who led the program to 40 national titles during his career.
Now a bronze statue of McDonnell will be the centerpiece of an outdoor museum.
Arkansas is moving forward with construction plans for a museum that will honor McDonnell and the track program’s history. The museum will be completed in November with the statue of McDonnell located at the northwest corner of the facility at the intersection of Razorback Road and Meadow Street.
"I am excited that there will soon be a fitting tribute to the thousands of student-athletes who helped build the legacy of Razorback Track and Field," McDonnell said in a news release. "When you consider how the program started from scratch, the success we have had and continue to enjoy is amazing.
"When you are competing in the moment, it is hard to have a sense of the enormity of the accomplishments. But now, for student-athletes to be able to come back 15 to 20 years after they have finished their career and show their children their name as part of the University of Arkansas’ extraordinary success, that will truly be special."
The 8-foot statue of McDonnell is one piece of a project that will include exhibit areas honoring Arkansas’ national championship teams, conference title teams, All-Americans, Olympians and world championships participants.
Arkansas also announced it will renovate the scoreboard as part of the project.
"This project is an optimal opportunity to recognize the history and legacy of our program and its numerous All-Americans, national champions and conference champions," Arkansas women’s track coach Lance Harter said in a news release. "It goes a long way in featuring and re-telling the great history and on-going success of Arkansas track and field which is unmatched anywhere in the country."
McDonnell will be the second person affiliated with the Arkansas athletic department honored for his work with an outdoors statue on campus.
A statue of former Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles was unveiled outside the entrance of the Broyles Center in Nov. 2012.
"This plaza is an incredibly meaningful project for the University of Arkansas as we’re able to honor Coach McDonnell with his bronze statue and recognize the tremendous history of our men’s and women’s programs," Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam said in an Arkansas news release. "I want to thank all the donors who have made this project possible. Its location on Razorback Road between Razorback Stadium and Bud Walton Arena will allow for great access to all Razorback fans.
"We honor the past but it’s about our future and this project will elevate that mission. This is a one-of-a-kind project in collegiate track and field."