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Dorrell placed on leave, documents outline hiring

By Matt Jones

This article was originally published April 13, 2012 at 11:50 a.m. Updated April 13, 2012 at 2:40 p.m.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/MICHAEL WOODS Jessica Dorrell at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on March 30, 2012.

— Jessica Dorrell, whose relationship with Bobby Petrino became public knowledge following a motorcycle accident earlier this month, has been placed on paid administrative leave from her per position as director of student-athlete development for the Razorbacks football program.

In documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, University of Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long approved an expedited process that resulted in Dorrell's hiring last month.

Clayton Hamilton, writing on Long's behalf, requested to UA assistant director of affirmative action Danielle Wood on March 19 to waive a 30-day job posting requirement so "an individual can be identified as soon as possible."

The position was posted on Feb. 28. Interviews were completed March 12-16, and Dorrell was hired on March 20.

Dorrell started the position March 23, but she was not officially introduced by the university until March 28.

Hamilton, who is listed as the athletics department's chief financial officer, wrote, "Timeliness during the process will be essential since any delay could result in missing a critical recruiting period when prospects are identified and plans are made to invite them to our campus for a recruiting visit."

Dorrell was one of three finalists who interviewed for the position. The names of the other finalists are redacted, but the documents released include travel and interview itineraries for Ben Wilkerson and Tiffany Fields.

All three finalists for the position went through an extensive one-day interview process, meeting with eight athletics department staffers, including former head football coach, Petrino.

In his letter asking to hire Dorrell, Petrino said the former volleyball player "had the best experience and we felt like she would be the best fit for this position."

"Jessica was a former student-athlete who understands the NCAA and SEC rules and regulations with regards to recruiting," an unknown author wrote in an interview feedback. "She also knows how to relate to potential recruits since she was a former athlete at the U of A.

"She has a natural networking ability who can communicate to coaches, student-athletes and donors. Out of the three candidates, Jessica has the most overall experience of building the relationships that the football program is looking for."

Of the other two finalists, Petrino wrote: "Great candidate but not as much relevant experience as other candidates for this particular position."

Petrino was fired Tuesday for what Long described as manipulative and misleading behavior in an attempt to cover-up an inappropriate relationship with Dorrell. Petrino also paid Dorrell $20,000 prior to her hire. According to documents obtained Friday, Dorrell used the money to purchase an Acura automobile during the first week of her employment with the football program.

The two were involved in a single motorcycle accident on April 1 causing Long to review their relationship.

In Long's letter of termination to Petrino, he wrote, "you deliberately failed to tell me that you had engaged in an extra-marital affair with Ms. Dorrell over a period of several months leading up to your recommendation to hire her. As such, you used your University position to advance your personal interests in violation of the University's policies on conflict of interest. If you had been forthcoming with me about the true nature of your relationship, I would not have approved the hiring of Ms. Dorrell for this position."

Long continued, "All of these facts, individually and collectively, are clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of the person occupying the position of the Head Football Coach - an individual who should serve as a role model and leader for our student-athletes. Moreover, all of these facts, individually and collectively, negatively and adversely affect the reputation of the University of Arkansas as well as our athletics programs."

Dorrell listed four years of related experience on her resume for the position. Nine of the 159 candidates for the position listed at least 10 years experience.

Five applications were marked as incomplete and one candidate withdrew from consideration during the hiring process.

According to the documents, Dann Kabala resigned from the position Feb. 24.


Caleb Fort in Springdale and Matthew Harris in Little Rock contributed to this report.


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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 total comments

jeeper360 says... April 13, 2012 at 1:22 p.m.

I don't think Dorrell was a passenger on the motorcycle. I think she was driving at the time of the crash. Running off the road like that is a rookie mistake for turning the handlebars the wrong way when turning. Push left, turn left. You turn a motorcycle opposite the direction you want to go. It isn't like turning a bicycle.

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Avenger9 says... April 13, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.

jeeper360: BINGO. Either that, or BP was driving but distracted by "funny business" - if you know what I mean. No way that he's driving, going about his business, and just spontaneously loses control in the sun.

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amberjack says... April 14, 2012 at 6:44 a.m.

I'm going with funny business, like a little pocket pool, next thing you know-you are in a ditch with a blond -----------------------------------------------------------girl

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