Photo: Screenshot via ArkansasRazorbacks.com
The University of Arkansas has fired Bobby Petrino, according to Joe Schad of ESPN.Petrino was placed on administrative leave earlier this week after he was found to be lying about a motorcycle accident he was involved in.
Petrino failed to tell the school that 25-year-old football program employee Jessica Dorrell was also in the accident.
Petrino initially concealed that information to “protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship [with Dorrell] from becoming public.”
After three successful seasons at Arkansas, including qualifying for the January 2011 Sugar Bowl, Petrino signed a large contract extension in December 2010 that would have paid him an average of $3.5 million annually.
The contract, though, contained a clause stating that Petrino could be fired for “engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of head football coach or which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university’s) athletics programs in any way.”
Recent events clearly fit the language of this clause as Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long formally announced Petrino’s dismissal during a live press conference.
Long said that in and of itself Petrino’s relationship with Dorrell was not against university policy. What IS against university policy is Petrino not disclosing his relationship with Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player, and then using his power and position to give her an advantage in the hiring process when there were well over 100 other qualified candidates for the job, Long added.
Long continually described Petrino’s behaviour throughout the entire investigation as “misleading,” “manipulative,” and “deceptive.” He added that Petrino’s actions were an “abuse of authority” and “conflict of interest.”
At one point during the press conference a reporter asked Long if he felt like Petrino thought he was bigger than the program. In a very candid moment, Long answered, “Yes.”
According to Arkansas, Petrino gave Dorrell an undisclosed $20,000 gift at one point. The IRS only allows tax-free gifts of up to $13,000.
Petrino was fired “with cause” and the University of Arkansas does NOT have to exercise the buyout clause of his contract, Long said.
As for Dorrell, the athletic director said no decision regarding her future employment has been made. Long described Dorrell’s particular situation as “a personnel matter.” But for now she remains an athletic department employee.
Arkansas football experienced its most successful run under Petrino, going to consecutive January bowl games and putting the Razorbacks among the top 10 money making college athletics programs in the country.
It bears noting that this is the first time Petrino has been fired from the many high profile head coaching jobs he’s had during his career.
Although significantly less egregious, Petrino’s actions while under contract with other schools/teams, i.e flirting with Auburn while at Louisville or making it obvious he was dying to return to college after taking the Atlanta Falcons job, could’ve easily warranted a dismissal.
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