Arkansas Razorbacks athletic director Jeff Long elected to fire Bobby Petrino after the latter's motorcycle adventure that led to his cover-up of an employed mistress, making the announcement official Tuesday night. Petrino was a popular coach in the Ozarks, and the school has plenty of booster money tied up in Petrino remaining aboard, but felt the coach's latest breach of trust was just too much to bear.
Live from Bud Walton Arena, Long began by recounting his presser from last week, when he found Petrino had "not been forthcoming" about the incident despite "a number of opportunities."
Long said he's "spoken with key individuals" involved with the accident, including Jessica Dorrell, Lance King and others. He "reviewed the manner, the timing, the extent to which Coach Petrino shared information," including what he told players and faculty.
Petrino's "personal and professional" relationship with Dorrell contributed to Long's decision to fire Petrino.
"Coach Petrino knowingly misled" the university, said Long, adding that Petrino had four days to reveal the truth to the school or the media but chose not to. His relationship led to Dorrell being chosen over 158 other applicants and landed her a $20,000 payment along the way. Wow! Video evidence of such a claim:
Petrino "adversely affected" the reputation of the Razorbacks, said Long. He said the relationship wasn't against university policy, but found that Petrino "abused his authority" and "jeopardized the integrity of the football program."
Long called Petrino "misleading and manipulative" for using athletic department funds to hire a person "with whom he had a personal relationship." His "conduct is contrary to the character and responsibilities we demand of our head football coach," Long said, adding that such language is included in his contract.
Taver Johnson will remain as the interim coach through spring drills. He assured the assembly the school will seek a coach "Razorback fans across the nation" can be proud of, citing the SEC West as a selling point. The search will begin "tonight," Long said, refusing to offer a deadline of any sort and refusing to comment on whether offensive coordinator Paul Petrino would be considered.
Long nearly choked up while talking about addressing Hogs players. He said he told them to focus on their academics and spring ball. "I'm committed to providing them with leadership befitting of the development of student-athletes," Long said. He called it an "obligation." Here's that moment:
"We have high standards," Long said. "And a national reputation. Our expectations from our employees can be no less than what we expect of our students. No individual can be bigger than the team, the Razorback football program, or the University of Arkansas."
Petrino was fired with cause, Long confirmed, meaning there won't be any buyout paid. Long denied that he negotiated with Petrino -- a previous report had claimed the coach was offered conditions but turned them down.
Petrino will release a statement later Tuesday night.