Last week, University of Arkansas head coach, Bobby Petrino held a press conference regarding his motorcycle accident which sent him to the hospital. He wasn't wearing a helmet because in Arkansas, they aren't mandatory (WHY ISN'T THIS LAW CHANGED!!) and the guy looked pretty rough. He wore a neck brace and his face was covered in bruises. The general reaction I noticed consisted of pity and relief he wasn't more seriously injured.
Then there was the police report containing more details. It seems that Coach Petrino wasn't alone during his afternoon bike ride. His passenger was a young, blond University employee, Jessica Dorrell. The sordid details started rushing out:
- Petrino gifted Dorrell $20k for unknown reasons.
- Petrino looked as if he was on the losing end of a fight with a baseball bat, but yet the girl was never taken to a hospital. Instead, she was dropped off at her car before Petrino was driven to the hospital.
- This isn't a new relationship. They were a couple when Dorrell applied for her current position at the University. She was one of 3 finalists where Petrino sat in all interviews and aided in hiring his mistress for a job.
- The two have exchanged more 4300 text messages and nearly 300 phone calls over the past 7 months including game days, the day of the accident, while Petrino recovered in the hospital and even the day the police was released.
Tuesday evening, Jeff Long, the Univ. of Ark. Athletic Director, held his own press conference stating that Petrino was being released of his contract effective immediately due to the included morality clause.
I admit that initially I was confused and upset over this decision. And then I read my twitter stream. I expected to find other fans bashing this decision, but instead they were VERY supportive of it.
It got me thinking.. WHY was I initially angry at his dismissal. The affair was immoral, yes, but had nothing to do with football. Like others, I assumed his winning record would save his job (and we all know what assuming does, right?). I've seen various players and coaches who were held to a much lower standard when their actions DID affect their sport and performance.
Petrino knowingly participated (and probably initiated) an extra-marital affair. He used his authority to help obtain a job for his mistress in his department. This is a man who is supposed to be a leader and shaper of men. As their coach,he should be someone the players, faculty and fans can admire. NOT a dirty secret they are burdened with simply in favor a winning season.
Congratulations Mr. Long on having a backbone and holding your faculty accountable for their actions. I wish we had more people in not only powerful positions, but also the media and our in our everyday lives who were willing to stand up for their beliefs.