Fayetteville, AR (WTVM) - Arkansas tonight fired head football coach Bobby Petrino. The university found that the 51-year-old Petrino knowingly deceived and acted inappropriately in the hiring process, of what they now say was his 26-year-younger mistress, Jessica Dorrell.
Petrino was put on paid leave on April 5th after he failed to notify Athletic Director Jeff Long that a young female football program employee was riding with him when he crashed his motorcycle on April 1st. Petrino later admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with 25-year-old Dorrell.
Long said he didn't hear about Dorrell as a passenger until Petrino called him last Thursday, minutes before the official police report put her at the scene of the accident.
An investigation into the inappropriate relationship found that Dorrell was one of 159 applicants for her job with the football program and at no time did Petrino disclose the relationship. The investigation also found that Petrino paid Dorrell $20,000 in cash.
"Coach Petrino abused his authority when over the past few weeks he made a staff decision and personal decisions that benefited himself and jeopardized the integrity of the football program" Long said. "In short, Coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff both before and after the motorcycle accident."
Long said Petrino's employment was "terminated with cause" under a direct violation of his contract.
"He made the decision to mislead the public, (and it) adversely affected the university and the football program," Long said.
Petrino said in a statement that he was informed of Long's decision in a letter this afternoon.
"The simplest response I have is: I'm sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I've let down by making selfish decisions. I've taken a lot of criticism in the past. Some deserved, some not deserved. This time, I have no one to blame but myself."
Petrino's coaching history is not without controversey. He left the Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas 13 games into the 2007 season. His tenure with the Falcons was the shortest for a non-interim coach since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Petrino has held 15 jobs for 11 different programs/organizations in 24 seasons.
Even with the controversy, this is blow to the Arkansas football team, who went 34–17 under Petrino and led them to their first two BCS bowls.
Assistant head coach and linebackers coach Taver Johnson will be the interim head coach this spring until Arkansas hires Petrino's replacement.