Placed on paid administrative leave five days ago — after flat-out covering up and/or lying to his bosses about the presence of a female UA football employee as a passenger on the wrecked bike — the Arkansas head coach has painted the university into a public relations corner, with terms such as “sexual harassment” and “civil lawsuits” being flung about as possibilities, remote or not. The bottom line for athletic director Jeff Long, chancellor David Gearhart, the Board of Trustees and other university officials may come down to their collective interpretation of the language contained within Petrino’s contract worth a total of roughly $25 million.
Petrino’s contract with the University of Arkansas states the coach could be fired 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.”
Bringing a football program into national prominence, and coming off back-to-back seasons that produced 21 wins in the rough-and-tumble SEC West, tends to buy a coach a bit longer rope than a losing one, though. It all would appear to come down to how much stench the university is willing to endure for the sake of remaining a winning football program.
Personally, if I were in the Arkansas administration’s shoes? Petrino would be gone. You can’t lie to your bosses and create an all-enveloping, very public maelstrom by way of a coverup and expect to keep your job. At least, you shouldn’t. Unless it violated school policy, the inappropriate relationship with a subordinate serves as nothing more than a titillating backdrop. The other stuff, the deceit and the Nixon-esque steps after the fact, that should not be tolerated by anyone, regardless of if an individual resides well on the good side of the won/loss ledger.
Just as Jim Tressel deserved to be fired for lying to both the NCAA and his bosses at the university and covering up his indiscretions, Petrino has earned the same fate.
Of course, your mileage may vary, which is actually the point of this whole exercise. What do you think? What should the University of Arkansas do about its Petrino situation? Vote below, and whine and/or sound-off below that in the comments section.