Based on what Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said in a statement last night, the coach appeared to be in a “previous inappropriate relationship” with Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old former employee of the Razorbacks Foundation and UA volleyball player.
The “inappropriate” part of their relationship, while a compelling story, is ultimately a private matter and likely not grounds for termination on its own. Granted, UA’s handbook does cite potential punishment for a consensual sexual relationship, and Petrino could be in violation of such rules, but we’re not at that point just yet.
Where Dorrell’s possible relationship with Petrino could affect his job security is her promotion to the current UA student-athlete development coordinator for football back on March 28. Petrino and Dorrell were involved in the motorcycle accident just four days later.
Dorrell replaced Dann Kabala, who took a job at Pitt as the football program’s player personnel director. According to Arkansas, Dorrell is making $55,735 in her current job, same as what Kabala did when he occupied the position.
The question becomes when did the relationship between Petrino and Dorrell allegedly become “inappropriate” — before or after Dorrell got her current job? In other words, what’s the exact date for “previous”? If the “inappropriate” part began after her hiring, the only thing that means is that I have severely underestimated Petrino’s effect on women.
Now, an administrator at the state Office of Personnel Management told Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News that ”Arkansas has no law prohibiting a state employee from hiring a romantic partner or having a romantic relationship with a subordinate.”
So if Petrino and Dorrell had a romantic relationship prior to her new job in the football offices, no one would be going to jail. But what athletic director Jeff Long needs to consider as he goes through his review is whether the “previous inappropriate relationship” violated the terms of Petrino’s contract. The portion in question is “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.”
Hiring a possible mistress would certainly seem to fall in that category.
Lying about Dorrell’s presence in Sunday’s motorcycle accident should be enough, in theory, to get Petrino fired for pulling Arkansas in to the scandal by association. UA released a statement Monday saying no one else was with Petrino at the time of the accident. That wasn’t true, and for a brief time on Thursday, the possibility existed that Arkansas was lying/covering something up because their statement didn’t match up with a police report released that day.
In short, Petrino could be terminated for a variety of reasons, all of which are at the discretion of Long. Had Petrino simply told the truth to begin with — or, at least not waited until the day the police report came out — he would no doubt be at greater odds of keeping his job.