Teammates In Football and Service to Tech

Like many of their fellow Arkansas Tech University alumni, Larry Brown and Jim Murphy pay forward what they received from Tech by volunteering for projects such as ATU Alumni Association breakfast during final exams.

“It gives the alumni a chance to talk and interact with the students,” said Brown. “It gives us the opportunity to wish them luck and let them know that there are people who want them to do well. The students have gotten to where they look forward to it after all these years. They appreciate it so much.”

And so there they are, most often in the Rothwell Hall lobby for at least one morning at the end of each fall and spring semester, just like they have for the better part of a decade.

“We thoroughly enjoy it,” said Murphy, a 1971 graduate of Tech and 2013 inductee into the ATU Hall of Distinction. “It’s a way to get back on campus and be involved. Both of us have tried to be involved in as much as we can because it keeps us young to come back here and interact with the students.”

The bond between Brown and Murphy dates back to August 1968 when they became Wonder Boys football teammates. Murphy was an offensive lineman and sophomore in academic status, but already an adult following a stint in the U.S. Air Force. Brown was a freshman, known by some as the ‘Marianna Mauler’ in recognition of his hometown and his relentless style of play as a running back.

“(Brown) came on to the campus with a bang,” said Murphy, “but he was able to follow up with that too, so we accepted him as a freshman. We were friends right from the start. He, Gerald Harvell and me…we were like the Three Musketeers. I had a car, so I was everybody’s friend because a lot of them didn’t have cars at the time.”

Arkansas Tech won the 1968 Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference championship. Brown became a featured back the next season and rushed for 1,118 yards on a 1969 squad that finished second in the AIC and ended the season on a four-game winning streak.

“Larry understood the people up in front of him,” said Murphy. “We’d open the holes up, and all he needed was a crease. We’d give him that, and he knew we would.”

During the final season that Brown and Murphy were teammates, the Wonder Boys earned the 1970 AIC championship.

Brown said that at a relatively small 205 pounds, Murphy was the ideal pulling guard.

“(Murphy) had great technique,” said Brown. “It wasn’t about being big. If you had good technique and you knew angles in that kind of offense, then you could do it. Size helped, but you had to have all the rest, too.”

Murphy’s blocking helped Brown complete his career with 3,603 rushing yards, a total that still stands as the most by an individual in ATU history.

It wasn’t the final time that Murphy would help his teammate find a path to success. Brown credits Murphy with helping him get situated in Russellville after he retired from a career that included stints in the U.S. Marine Corps and working for the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Brown also points to Murphy as a key figure in encouraging him to complete his bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech in 2010, nearly four decades after Brown’s final game in the green and gold.

“All those years coming back for Tech Homecoming events, Jim was always there and was always a friend,” said Brown. “It got to where I would stay at his house when I would visit, and we called it Jim’s Motel. The friendship just grew during that period of time…the 20-year reunion, the 25-year reunion. I became part of his group. To this day, he remains my best friend. I couldn’t have found anybody who could keep me in touch with Tech the way he has. This school gave so much to me when I was younger, and now I get the opportunity to give back.”

Photographed: Arkansas Tech University alumni Jim Murphy (left) and Larry Brown (right). 

ATU Alumnus Promoted to Major General

Arkansas Tech University alumnus and Russellville native Gary W. Johnston was promoted to the rank of U.S. Army Major General at Resolute Support Mission Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, July 24.

A 1987 graduate of ATU, MG Johnston will continue to serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence in Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. MG Johnston oversees the military’s daily intelligence operations as it relates to the NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.

His previous assignments have included serving as the Senior Intelligence Officer (J-2), Joint Intelligence Center, U.S. Central Command, McDill Air Force Base (Fla.); Deputy Commanding General for U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir (Va.); and Senior Intelligence Officer (G-2), XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg (N.C.).

MG Johnston is one of seven Arkansas Tech ROTC program graduates to earn the rank of General officer in the U.S. Army. The others are Major General Ronald S. Chastain, Major General Harley C. Davis, Brigadier General Gracus K. Dunn, Major General William E. Harmon, Brigadier General Larry Newman and Major General William Wofford.

Other honored ROTC graduates of Tech include Congressman Steve A. Womack and two Department of Defense civilian General-officer-equivalent: Senior Executive Service Dalton R. Jones and Defense Intelligence Senior Level William H. Speer (Colonel, U.S. Army Retired).

Tech Community Celebrates Jerry’s Birthday

Arkansas Tech University students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends were among those in attendance to wish Jerry the Bulldog, campus ambassador, a happy fourth birthday on Monday, July 17.

Approximately 100 individuals enjoyed Jerry-themed cupcakes in the first floor lobby of Dr. Robert Charles Brown and Jill Lestage Brown Hall as the 70-pound guest of honor dined on a special-made cake of his own.

Born on July 17, 2013, Jerry Charles Young I has served as campus ambassador for ATU since he was introduced during a ceremony on Oct. 26, 2013. The campus ambassador program was created by unanimous vote of the ATU Student Government Association on Oct. 23, 2013.

Learn more about Jerry the Bulldog.

Jerry's 4th Birthday | 7/17/17

ATU Night with the Travs Set for July 21

Arkansas Tech University alumni and friends will gather in North Little Rock for the 11th annual ATU Alumni Association Night at Dickey-Stephens Ballpark on Friday, July 21.

Each $15 ticket includes admission to the Texas League baseball game between the Arkansas Travelers and the Springfield Cardinals, seating in the Tracks Inn picnic area and access to a buffet meal of ballpark favorites. Children age 3 and under will be admitted to the park free of charge.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. The stadium gates will open at 6:10 p.m.

To register or for more information, visit or call (479) 968-0242.

Tech Well Represented in July 4 Events

A former Arkansas Tech University cross country team member and a current member of the ATU men’s golf team made headlines in two of Arkansas’ most recognized July 4 sporting events on Tuesday.

Cheryl Nolan, an all-conference cross country selection at Arkansas Tech in 2010 and 2011, won the women’s division in the 2017 Firecracker Fast 5K in Little Rock. She completed the course in 16 minutes, 58.69 seconds.

Nolan is one of eight women in the history of Golden Suns cross country to earn multiple all-conference awards.

Ryan Spurlock, who will be a sophomore on the ATU men’s golf team in 2017-18, finished second in the 2017 Fourth of July Classic at War Memorial Golf Course in Little Rock. Spurlock completed the 54-hole event with a 6-under par total of 186, one stroke behind champion Chris Jenkins of Little Rock.

A graduate of Maumelle High School and resident of Little Rock, Spurlock was named Great American Conference freshman of the year and helped the Wonder Boys reach the match play semifinals of the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships during the 2016-17 season.