ST LOUIS (LALATE) – The Jessica Dorrell Arkansas hiring by Bobby Petrino, as much as Petrino’s wreck cover-up, dominated investigative efforts by his supervisors this week. Arkansas told news Tuesday that Jessica Dorrell’s hiring, Petrino’s statements following his wreck, and Petrino’s payment to Dorrell following her hiring all led to Arkansas’ firing of Petrino Tuesday night. Petrino has since apologized to the university and his family. Dorrell has had no comment for news.
But tonight, Jessica Dorrell’s status with Arkansas remains unanswered. The status of her engagement to fiancé Josh Morgan, director of swimming and diving operations for the Razorbacks, was also questioned by ESPN last night. Becky Petrino has yet to comment about her husband’s scandal.
After Bobby Petrino wrecked his bike, Becky called him. Bobby Petrino at the time was injured, en route to a local hospital. An ASP report reveals that, only then, Bobby Petrino revealed to his wife that he been involved in a crash. Later that evening, Becky Petrino told ASP that it could transport her husband’s crashed bike to her garage. It remains unknown when Becky Petrino learned about Dorrell.
Athletic director Jeff Long, in firing Bobby Petrino yesterday, got choked up when he told news about one facet of the investigation. Long said it was difficult telling Petrino’s players that their coach had been fired.
When Long announced that Petrino was fired last night, he would not comment about Dorrell’s status with Arkansas. Her own relationship status with Morgan remained in question. ESPN last night used the expression that Dorrell was “at one point” engaged to Morgan.
Long told news that the manner in which Petrino hired Dorrell was suspect. Dorrell, on March 28, was hired as Student Athlete Development Coordinator. “Jessica Dorrell will be a great addition to our football program,” Petrino said in a news statement at the time. “As a former student-athlete she has an enthusiasm for the Razorbacks and is familiar with what the University of Arkansas can offer.”
But Long found many problems with the Dorrell hiring. First, Long claims that Petrino’s hiring process was conducted shorter than usual. Dorrell was one of three finalists of one hundred fifty-nine applicants. Second, Long said that Petrino and Dorrell were fully involved in an relationship at the time. Long said Petrino simply hired Dorrell so that it “benefited himself”. But Long said it ultimately “jeopardized the integrity of the football program.”
Finally, Long said that Petrino should have disclosed the conflict of interest in interviewing Dorrell, a former Razorback Foundation Assistant Director, but never did so. Days after that hiring, the Petrino and Dorrell were ready to hit the road for a Sunday bike right at night.
Long then said that the web of deception by Petrino reflected poorly on the university and the program. Petrino was owed $3.53 million on his annual contract this year. But because Petrino’s actions amounted to contact breaches, Long said he was able to fire Petrino for cause, preventing any payment of the university to Petrino of his annual $3 million salary and his $18 million buyout provision.
Petrino’s false statements to Long and Arkansas resulted in both parties issuing false statements to news media from Sunday to Tuesday. Long blamed Petrino’s lies for causing Arkansas to issue this false statement after the April 1 crash. “Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals.”
After being discharged from the hospital, Petrino continued to lie to national news. He claimed he emerged from a ditch alone and there was someone there to help him. Nothing could be further from the truth. “When I came out of a ditch, there was a lady there that had flagged down a car. And the guy that was in the passenger seat said get in we’ll just take you right to the hospital.”
Rather, witness Larry Hendren told 911 dispatch that the Petrino reemerged from the ditch with Dorrell. Petrino was “walking, but it looked like his face was bleeding quite a lot.” After they “were getting out of the ditch”, they got out of the crash scene promptly as well. The two left in a private car, in no less than five minutes, declining 911 assistance.
The Petrino Dorrell affair didn’t start on April 1 the day of the Bobby Petrino wreck. Nor did it start on March 28, the day Petrino hired Dorrell. Long claims it had been going on for a “significant” amount of time. Petrino even paid Dorrell $20,000 and never disclosed the payment to the university. The funds came from Petrino, not Arkansas accounts.
Tonight, Petrino is out of job, and a bike. Dorrell’s status remains uncertain. And Long has done his best to repair Petrino’s conduct which Long claims has negatively and adversely affected the reputation of his university’s athletics program.
Bobby Petrino, Jessica Dorrell