Jessica Dorrell’s role in Petrino’s future

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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.

Oklahoma State punter Zach Sinor launches campaign for… Heisman Trophy

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Move over Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph, because it appears there is another college football player from the state of Oklahoma who has his eyes set on winning the Heisman Trophy.

Oklahoma State punter — yes, punter — Zach Sinor has officially launched his Heisman Trophy campaign with a fun video promotion from the Oklahoma State football social media team. In it, you get a real sense of what is motivating the Cowboys punter, who was left off the Ray Guy Award list a year ago.

I shouldn’t have to remind you that a punter has never won the Heisman Trophy award, but that does not mean we can’t have some fun and laughs along the way as Sinor looks to state his case this season.

Vanderbilt suspends three players connected to parking lot shooting incident

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Days after two Vanderbilt football players were shot in an incident involving a stolen phone, head coach Derek Mason has suspended three players connected to the incident. Defensive backs Tae Daley and Frank Coppet and wide receiver Donaven Tennyson have all been indefinitely suspended from all football activities in Nashville.

Daley and Coppet were shot outside a Nashville Target on Monday night. Neither player suffered what is considered a critical injury, which is good to hear, but the entire incident centering around a meeting in which Tennyson was attempting to recover a cellphone that had been stolen from him. Tennyson brought his teammates with him in what has been described by authorities as “an ill-conceived plan.”

Mason clearly agreed.

No arrests have been made, but police are continuing to work the case to identify the shooters.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.