Updated: Statements issued after Petrino fired from Arkansas
“Last Thursday night, I met with you to share information that I had learned just hours earlier that Coach Petrino had not been forthcoming with me and with you about the circumstances of this motorcycle accident.
As you know, I placed Coach Petrino on administrative leave while I reviewed his contract related to the accident. I assured him and all of you that I would approach this task fairly and thoroughly. Since that time, I have spoken with key individuals that were involved in the accident and in what occurred afterwards, his passenger on the motorcycle, the individuals who transported him to Fayetteville and to the hospital, and several people who spoke with Coach Petrino before and after the accident.
I reviewed the manner, timing, and extend to which Coach Petrino shared information about the accident, both with men and with others, and to whom he was accountable. That includes among others, the members of the football program, our supporters, student-athletes, faculty, staff, and alumni of the university, and the public at large.
My review raised several concerns which led me to look beyond the accident itself. That included the professional and personal relationship he had with his passenger, Jessica Dorrell, the process and circumstances that influenced his decision to hire her as a direct report member of his staff and his candor and behavior of my staff.
Here are the key findings of my review:
Coach Petrino knowingly misled the athletics department and university about the circumstance related to this accident. He had multiple opportunities over a four day period to be forthcoming with me. He chose not to. He treated the news media and the general public in a similar manner. Coach Petrino’s relationship with Ms. Dorrell gave her an unfair and undisclosed advantage for a position on Coach Petrino’s football staff. She was one of 159 applicants for the job and Coach Petrino himself participated in the review and selection process without disclosing his relationship with her and that constitutes a conflict of interest under university policy.
During my review of this matter, Coach Petrino informed me that he give a large sum of cash, some $20,000 to Ms. Dorrell. Coach Petrino, however, failed to disclose this information to me prior to his recommendation to hire her into the football program.
Coach Petrino’s conduct regarding his account of the accident jeopardized the integrity of the football program. He made a choice to return to practice on Tuesday, to hold a press conference, and to demonstrate his physical resiliency and command of his program, all the time failing to correct his initial report that he was the only person involved in the accident. He made a conscious decision to speak and mislead the public on Tuesday. In doing so, he negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas and our football program.
By itself, Coach Petrino’s consensual relationship with Ms. Dorrell prior to her joining the football staff was not against university policy. By itself, it is a matter between individuals and their families. However, in this case, Coach Petrino abused his authority when over the past few weeks, he made a staff decision and personal choices that benefited himself and jeopardized the integrity of the football program. In short, Coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members or the athletics’ staff both before and after the motorcycle accident.
He used athletic department funds to hire for his staff a person whom he had an inappropriate relationship. He engaged in reckless and unacceptable behavior and put his relationship in the national spotlight. Coach Petrino’s conduct was contrary to character and responsibilities we demand of our head football coach. In fact, that is the very language that is included in his contract that he signed as the University of Arkansas
Consequently, this afternoon, I informed Coach Petrino that his employment with the university was being terminated immediately.” -----------------
I was informed in writing today at 5:45 p.m. that I was being terminated as head football coach at the University of Arkansas.
The simplest response I have is: I’m sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I’ve let down by making selfish decisions. I’ve taken a lot of criticism in the past. Some deserved, some not deserved. This time, I have no one to blame but myself.
I chose to engage in an improper relationship. I also made several poor decisions following the end of that relationship and in the aftermath of the accident. I accept full responsibility for what has happened.
I’m sure you heard Jeff Long’s reasons for termination. There was a lot of information shared. Given the decision that has been made, this is not the place to debate Jeff’s view of what happened. In the end, I put him in the position of having to sort through my mistakes and that is my fault.
I have hurt my wife Becky and our four children. I’ve let down the University of Arkansas, my team, coaching staff and everyone associated with the Razorback football program. As a result of my personal mistakes, we will not get to finish our goal of building a championship program. I wish that I had been given the opportunity to meet with the players and staff prior to this evening’s press conference and hope that I will be given the opportunity to give my apologies and say my goodbyes in person. We have left the program in better shape than we found it and I want the Razorback Nation to know that it is my hope that the program achieves the success it deserves.
My sole focus at this point is trying to repair the damage I’ve done to my family. They did not ask for any of this and deserve better. I am committed to being a better husband, father and human being as a result of this and will work each and every day to prove that to my family, friends and others.
I love football. I love coaching. I of course hope I can find my way back to the profession I love. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to heal the wounds I have created.
I want to thank Chancellor Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, the University administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and fans for the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at the University of Arkansas for the past 4 years. I was not given an opportunity to continue in that position. I wish that had been the case, but that was not my decision. I wish nothing but the best for the Razorback football program, the University and the entire Razorback Nation. -------------------------------
Multiple reports broke the news earlier this evening, but athletic director Jeff Long confirmed in a press conference that Bobby Petrino would no longer be the head coach of Arkansas effective immediately. Long cited a long and deliberate review in which he discovered coach Petrino had “knowingly misled the athletic department about the circumstances of the [motorcycle] accident.”
Additionally, Long said Petrino gave football employee Jessica Dorrell an “unfair and undisclosed advantage” for her new job. According to Long, nearly 160 people applied for Ms. Dorrell’s position, and only three were interviewed. Long said Petrino failed to disclose his relationship with Dorrell, which apparently was going on for a “significant period of time.”
Petrino and Dorrell also confirmed to Long that Dorrell received $20,000 in cash from Petrino. Long later told a local news outlet that the payment was not made with university money.
“Coach Petrino abused his authority and made choices that benefited him while hurting the program,” Long said. “No single individual is bigger than the team.”
Long added that he made the decision to fire Petrino on his own. He denied reports that Petrino was offered an opportunity to stay, and insisted Petrino was not given the chance to plead his case.
Long said Petrino was terminated with cause.
Petrino was in what was initially reported to be a one-man motorcycle accident last Sunday. However, a police report last Thursday confirmed that Dorrell was on the motorcycle with Petrino when it crashed. Dorrell works in the football offices at Arkansas as the student-athlete development coordinator and began her current job on March 28, just days before the accident.
Petrino had a 34-17 record in four seasons with the Razorbacks. A search for a new head coach will begin