What began as a one-man motorcycle accident has turned into a full-fledged scandal with Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.
The result of that scandal — for now — has resulted in Petrino being placed on paid administrative leave while his future with the program rests in the hands of his boss, athletic director Jeff Long.
Long called a press conference at just before 10 p.m. this evening to address the new details surrounding Petrino’s motorcycle accident on Sunday, which include the revelation that a female passenger, UA football employee Jennifer Dorrell, was on the bike during the accident.
Previous statements by both Petrino and UA claimed the coach was the only person involved in the incident. Dorrell was previously a volleyball player for UA and later worked for the Razorbacks Foundation. She was promoted student-athlete development coordinator for football late last month.
In a statement released this evening, Petrino acknowledged a “previously inappropriate relationship”, but didn’t expand much beyond that.
Below is Petrino’s statement in its entirety. Petrino was not present at the press conference and was seen leaving campus earlier this evening.
“The state police report provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publicly come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publicly acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle. I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces. That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell’s name being revealed. In my press conference, I referred to her simply as “a lady.” My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public. In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details. Today, I’ve acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration.
“I apologize to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas. I have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and get well wishes. I apologize to the Razorback Nation for the attention my actions have brought to the University of Arkansas and our program. I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my Athletic Direction, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.”
That last line will be determined after Long finishes an internal review of the matter. Long said this evening he received a phone call from coach Petrino at around 3:12 this afternoon with “information he had not previously shared. That information was that there was another passenger on the motorcycle” which was identified to be Dorrell.
Long then said he met with Petrino at about 7:15 this evening, during which time Petrino admitted he had not been completely forthcoming with all the information regarding the Sunday accident. At about 8:30, Long explained that he placed Petrino on paid administrative leave until the review is completed. Assistant coach Taver Johnson will be the program’s interim coach.
“We have high expectations for our coaches… certainly I’m disappointed,” Long said. “I brought him [Petrino] here.”
The AD admitted he was “surprised” that Petrino had not been completely forthcoming about the details of the motorcycle accident. Whether that surprise results in Petrino’s termination remains to be seen. There is a part of Petrino’s contract that specifies the coach could be terminated or punished 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 or UAF’s athletics programs in any way.”
Based on that language, Petrino could have been fired four years ago for the way he left the Atlanta Falcons.
“Trust is important in any relationship,” Long said.
And Petrino has compromised the trust of many on a personal and professional level with this latest lie.