The University of Arkansas has announced that its head football coach Bobby Petrino will not be returning to his post after a motorcycle wreck last week that captured the nation’s attention. Petrino has been highly successful at Arkansas, especially considering the stiff competition in the Southeastern Conference. Last year, his Arkansas Razorbacks lost only two games to LSU and Alabama, who went on to meet in the BCS National Championship Game, with Alabama claiming its second national championship in three years. Last week, Petrino had a wreck on his motorcycle that forced him to seek care at a hospital. He played off the incident, saying he lost control of his bike due to wind and sun. At first glance, everything seemed to be on the up and up, but a few days later, it was revealed that a 25-year-old former Arkansas volleyball player that was recently hired on with the athletic department was riding with Petrino. She was unharmed in the accident, but Petrino failed to give the details in a press conference, and also did not admit it to officials at the university.
Petrino is a married man with four children, and there was little excuses to be made for the incident. He did come clean in the end, admitting to an “inappropriate relationship” with Jessica Dorrell. At a special press conference tonight at 7:15 CST, Arkansas announced that they were cutting ties with the coach after the scandal. Petrino was making a salary of over $3 million per year under his contract, but there was a clause in there that gave the university sweeping opportunity to terminate the contract if he did anything that was considered immoral or unethical. This is a fairly standard clause in most coaches’ contracts, and the clause was used as cause for the firing of Bobby Petrino on Tuesday.
Jessica Dorrell has remained quiet on the incident, but no doubt worries of sexual harassment claims played a factor in the university’s decision. However, it is nice to see a moral stand in college sports. Petrino was a proven winner, and there was little doubt that the Razorbacks would continue to be a national contender in the years to come. However, the university decided that its reputation was more important than winning football games, and for that, it’s hard to fault them.
Petrino has always been a pretty private individual, and up until now, there were no scandals or rumors to speak of. He has had some controversy before. When he took the job at Arkansas, he was the head coach of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. His decision to vacate Atlanta mid-season got him a lot of criticism, with many pundits saying that how could you trust a coach that would abandon a team before the season was done. Petrino never offered up any real explanations, instead focusing on his new job and turning the Arkansas Razorbacks into a regular contender for the SEC and national title.