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Petrino suspended following crash revelations

By Matt Jones

This article was published April 5, 2012 at 9:18 p.m.

arkansas-football-coach-bobby-petrino-left-was-placed-on-paid-administrative-leave-on-thursday-by-ua-athletics-director-jeff-long-right-after-petrino-lied-about-details-surrounding-his-motorcycle-accident-last-sunday-ap-photos

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino (left) was placed on paid administrative leave on Thursday by UA athletics director Jeff Long (right) after Petrino lied about details surrounding his motorcycle accident last Sunday. (AP Photos)

A woman identified as Jessica Dorrell on the University of Arkansas athletics website.

Bobby Petrino's Harley-Davidson motorcycle following an accident on Sunday.

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino speaks during a news conference in Fayetteville on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, after being released from a hospital....

Jessica Dorrell and University of Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino appear together in this Feb. 23 file photograph at Searcy High School during a meeting ...

Jeff Long - Bobby Petrino Suspension

Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long addresses Bobby Petrino's suspension as Razorbacks head footba...

Petrino statement

“The state police report today provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publically come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publically 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 Director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.”

— Bobby Petrino has been placed on paid leave following the release of a police report that revealed that he had a 25-year-old female employee with him on his motorcycle during a Sunday crash.

Speaking at a late night press conference Thursday, Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long said he will conduct a review of Petrino. The review will determine whether he will remain employed by the university.

Petrino has a contractual termination clause 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.”

Taver Johnson, who was hired as linebackers coach in January, will serve as interim coach in Petrino's absence.

"Any time we have a coach who makes a misstep, it's disappointing to me," Long said. "We have high expectations of every coach and staffer."

Long said he spoke with Petrino shortly before a state police report was released Thursday afternoon and informed the coach of his decision later Thursday night.

Jessica Dorrell, who was hired last week to an administrative role within the Arkansas football department, was on the back of Petrino's motorcycle when it crashed Sunday in Madison County, according to the accident report released by the Arkansas State Police.

The report contradicted a statement made by the Petrino family through the University of Arkansas athletics media relations office on Monday stating the Razorbacks' football coach was the only individual involved in the accident. Petrino crashed his Harley-Davidson around 6:45 p.m. Sunday on Arkansas 16 near the rural community of Crosses, about 23 miles southeast of Fayetteville.

"He admitted that he had not been totally forthcoming and forthright with me about the accident," Long said. "He shared with me the reasons why he didn't share the information."

Petrino didn't speak Thursday night, but did release a statement through the university's media relations office.

"The state police report today provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publicly come to light prior to the report being issued," Petrino wrote. "I regret that I have not publicly acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle.

"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.

"I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my athletic director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks."

According to the report, Petrino and Dorrell were picked up by Benjamin Adam Williams, Jody Diane Stewart and Williams' 12-year-old son, all of Ozark. Petrino and Dorrell were transported to the intersection of Huntsville Road and Crossover Road in east Fayetteville, where Dorrell departed the vehicle.

Petrino was met there by Capt. Lance King, an Arkansas state trooper who serves as his security detail during football season, and transported to Physicians' Specialty Hospital in Fayetteville. King is also the commander of Arkansas State Police Troop L, based in Springdale.

Petrino suffered four broken ribs, a neck sprain and a cracked vertebrae in the accident, he said Tuesday. Dorrell was not injured, according to the report. Neither was cited by police for the accident.

Dorrell is a former volleyball player at the UA and had previously worked for The Razorback Foundation Inc., the university's private fundraising arm. She was hired as student-athlete development coordinator for football on March 28.

Petrino is 34-17 in four seasons at Arkansas, increasing his win total in each season at the school. He led the Razorbacks to an 11-2 record in 2011, tying the school record for most wins in a season and finishing the year ranked No. 5 nationally.

Since his hiring, Arkansas' football program has seen a significant spike in donation levels, allowing for the construction of a $40.35 million operations center to be completed next year and a proposed future expansion to the north side of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The program's assistant coaches have also received pay raises following each of the last two seasons.

The Razorbacks were ranked by Forbes magazine as the eighth-most valuable college football program last year at more than $80 million.

Petrino agreed to a seven-year contract in December 2011 that pays him $3.56 million annually. The contract has a mutual buyout clause that began at $18 million for the first two years of the agreement, but it can be waived for breach of contract.

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Jfish says... April 6, 2012 at 11:13 a.m.

Harley, if you are lying to your boss and the people who pay your salary, it is likely just a matter of time until something else comes along like a recruiting scandal. Long knows this and he will now have to decide if he wants to keep BP and run this risk or cut ties with him now. I would also advise against having a beer party with any players, they get in enough trouble without the coach supplying them alcohol. I realize that alot of men have these illusions of being a hell raising harley rider, but the reality is that about 99.9% of those men have other pressing priorities like being a good husband, mentor and football coach.

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FDRine says... April 6, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.

The devil works when you are unfaithful. You lie and try to cover up. I hope he will repent, asking forgiveness from God, his family. He needs to confess and put it in God's hands. I hope he can stay at at the university and show repentance and be an example of a changed life.

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Felina says... April 6, 2012 at 11:32 a.m.

"Having good morals shouldn't be a concern for a winning coach". If that is correct, then it should not be in his contract!

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T6 says... April 6, 2012 at 12:08 p.m.

Part of this fiasco is the fault of the press for not challeging obvious things in his story that wasn't logical.

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Packman says... April 6, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.

BMFP scores more off the field more than than Houston Nutt can score on the field..... Wasn't it all the Bill Clinton supporters that said everyone lies about sex????? In a normal supervisor/surbordinate relationship the supervisor would be relieved of those duties via demotion or firing. BMFP cannot be demoted so what is the alternative? His ability to coach will remain the same but the effect on recruiting will be a huge negative. How can he look a mom and dad in the face and promise that he's a straight shooter after all of this? We did, however, go 11-2 and win the Cotton Bowl last season - Woo Pig!

Does anyone know if the UofA health insurance carrier covers the cost of birth control pills and Viagra?

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Felina says... April 6, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.

T6- you are right in the money! ADG needs to hire you as an investigative reporter, since your instincts were correct from the beginning!

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T6 says... April 6, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.

Packman, for 35,000 a year I would hope it would cover viagra...

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SECfan5 says... April 6, 2012 at 1:13 p.m.

Come on some of you and stop defending Petrino just because he wins games and trying to deflect blame by citing others- that's irrelevant. He royally messed up and probably should not survive this episode if UA doesn't want to be embroiled in a lawsuit. It's not the suggestion of a sexual relationship that has done him in- it's HIS recent hiring of the woman. Folks- like it or not, a relationship with someone who you have authority over is called sexual harassment. Arkansas will survive and needs a new coach. Petrino will comeback- just not in Arkansas.

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T6 says... April 6, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.

Either way Petrino comes out ahead unless he's found in breach of contract.
He'll either still have a job or he' ll have a few million and be on his way to the next school and the next conquest.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... April 6, 2012 at 3:34 p.m.

University of A** and Fraternization

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