University of Arkansas Press Conference on Coach Bobby Petrino’s Firing

On Tuesday night, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long spoke at a press conference regarding his decision to fire head coach Bobby Petrino. (All quotes used herein are attributed to Long).

Following a motorcycle accident on April 1, Bobby Petrino was put on administrative leave after athletic director Jeff Long learned that Petrino had failed to disclose his female passenger involved in the accident.  The passenger was 25-year-old, former Razorback volleyball player, Jessica Dorrell (she’s still on the website, but he’s off), who Petrino has had an inappropriate relationship with for a “significant period of time” and who was recently hired as the Razorback Foundation Assistant Director on Petrino’s staff.

At the press conference, Long explained that there were several concerns which led him to look beyond the accident itself.

The key findings include:

  • Coach Petrino knowingly misled the athletics department and the University about the circumstances related to his accident. “He had multiple opportunities over a four-day period to be forthcoming with me.  He chose not to.”
  • Coach Petrino’s relationship with Ms. Dorrell gave her an unfair and undisclosed advantage for a position on his staff. Dorrell was one of 159 applicants for this position and Petrino participated in the review and selection process without disclosing his relationship.  This presents a considerable conflict of interest.  Furthermore, he had given her a large sum of cash, but did not disclose that prior to her hiring.
  • Coach Petrino jeopardized the integrity of the football program. He initially made a conscious decision to speak and mislead the public on Tuesday.  He negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas.

Long explained that the consensual relationship prior to Dorrell’s joining the staff was not a violation of University policy.  But that 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 of the athletic staff both before and after the motorcycle accident.”

“He engaged in reckless and unacceptable behavior that put his relationship in the national spotlight.  Coach Petrino’s conduct was contrary to the character and responsibilities we demand of our head football coach.  In fact that is the very language is including in his contract that he signed at the University of Arkansas. Consequently, this afternoon, I informed coach Petrino that his employment with the University was being terminated immediately.”

When asked why he became so emotional during the press conference, Long said it’s because people’s lives are affected here and that’s what we sometimes miss.

The termination was “for cause” such that Petrino will not receive a buyout.

Taver Johnson (assistant head coach–linebackers) takes over as the interim head coach.

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