FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head volleyball coach Jason Watson has signed a new employment agreement that could keep him on the sidelines at Barnhill Arena through the 2027 season. Watson is in his seventh season with the Razorbacks and has his team primed to make a return to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament this December.
Arkansas is 15-8 on the season, including two top 10-wins over No. 8 Washington and No. 7 Georgia Tech. The Razorbacks are No. 25 in the latest NCAA Ratings Point Index (RPI) and have five regular season matches remaining.
“As we continue in our efforts to build a program to consistently compete in the SEC and the NCAA Tournament, it is promising to see the meaningful strides we have made toward our goals with Coach Watson’s leadership,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “Jason has taken a thoughtful and purposeful approach to building a program that can achieve those goals while also providing our student-athletes with an impactful collegiate experience. I look forward to watching what is in store for our volleyball program in the remainder of this season and in the years to come under the direction of Coach Watson.”
Watson signed a new three–year agreement that runs from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2025 and includes incentive based salary increases and agreement extensions based on NCAA Tournament appearances. Additional incentive payments will be based on success in the SEC and the NCAA Tournament and graduation of volleyball student-athletes.
“I’m thankful to be entrusted with the continued development of volleyball at the University of Arkansas,” Watson said. “I work among the best coaches, administrators and support staff in the country, which makes working here such a rewarding experience. For me personally, this position extends far beyond campus. Just as I love our volleyball home, Barnhill Arena, the state of Arkansas has become home to me and my family. To be able to help grow our sport within Arkansas, to impact the lives of our current and future Razorbacks, all while wearing the Hog, is such a profound and meaningful part of my life.”
Watson has piloted the Razorback program to a steady rise, including a list of accomplishments, not realized by the program in more than a decade. He was named the 2020 SEC Volleyball Coach of the Year and in 2021 Watson led the Razorbacks to their first 20-win season since 2012. With the Razorbacks’ next victory, Watson will earn career win number 300 as well as his 100th win at the University of Arkansas.
This season, with all but one of his starters back and the addition of 2021 SEC blocks leader Tatum Shipes from the transfer portal, Arkansas’ first test came quickly as the Hogs took on No. 8 Washington at home to open the season. The Razorbacks’ 3-1 win on August 26 was the team’s highest ranked win since 2007.
The Razorbacks went 7-1 to start the season and landed back in the rankings for the first time since 2015 on September 12, just in time for the No. 7 Georgia Tech Yellowjackets to come to town. The Hogs’ four-set victory over the Jackets was the Hogs’ second top 10 win of the season. The win vaulted Arkansas to No. 20 the following week, the team’s highest spot and first time ranked in consecutive weeks since 1999.
The Hogs checked in at No. 16 in the first NCAA RPI ranking of the season, the highest in Watson’s tenure and the best season-opening rank for Arkansas since 2013, the last season the Razorbacks appeared in the NCAA Tournament.
The buzz around Watson’s program has commanded the attention of Razorback Nation in a way never seen before. In 2022, the program set a new season ticket record, recorded four of its top 10 highest-attended matches and is tracking on the highest average match attendance in team history with 1,110 over 14 matches. In just one other season the team saw 1,000+ fans at each match, in 2012.