The name Bev Lewis is practically synonymous with Arkansas women’s athletics. And having served Arkansas athletics in a variety of roles for more than three decades, it made sense.
Lewis’ career with the Razorbacks has included positions as coach and administrator, and has seen the unification of the Arkansas men’s and women’s sports divisions, the construction of multiple upgraded facilities for the women’s teams and the addition of four women’s sports.
Lewis’s tenure in Arkansas began in 1981 when she became the director of women’s track and field. Lewis led the Razorbacks to six top 20 national finishes before moving to a managerial position in 1989. Arkansas achieved its first national team rankings, top 10 national finals and a conference championship under her leadership.
But Lewis’ experience as a coach was not the same as that of most First Division coaches today.
“When I first got there, I was teaching five classes,” Lewis said. “I was the strength coach, the academic advisor, and I drove the bus to meetings all the way to Houston and Austin. We didn’t have any funding.”
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Seeing a lack of financial support for the women’s program led Lewis to become interested in management. She felt she could have more impact if she worked in the sports department than she could do as a coach.
In 1989, she became the director of women’s athletics. One of her first jobs was hiring a replacement as a women’s track and field coach. She chose Lance Harter, the legendary coach who still leads the national power Razorbacks after more than 30 years. He will retire in 2023.
Another successful hire by Lewis was women’s golf coach Shauna Taylor. Taylor was the only assistant coach Lewis ever promoted, which she did in 2007. She has since been named twice as SEC Coach of the Year.
“I’ve always had a lot of admiration for Bev,” Taylor said. “To be a sports director when she was and have to sit at the table with all the guys and do such a great job, I think she’s a great example of leadership.”
Lewis oversaw additions to golf, volleyball, gymnastics, and softball in the late 1990s. She cited these additions, as well as the construction and improvement of facilities such as the Razorback Football Stadium, Billingsley Tennis Center, and Bogle Park softball, as her most proud accomplishments.
It is fitting to name the first building on campus dedicated to women’s sports after her: the Bev Lewis Women’s Athletics Center. Completed in 2003, this facility serves as a math training center for Razorback.
“Every time I walk into the Bev Lewis Center, I’m reminded of the mark you left at our university,” Taylor said. “We all owe it to Bev for the legacy and the mark she has left on our athletics department.”