In a matter of days, what seemed like an innocent, albeit scary, motorcycle accident involving Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino has spiraled out of control. On Thursday night, Petrino was placed on paid administrative leave as the athletic department investigates the accident, specifically a previously unknown passenger -- a 25-year-old female athletic department employee.
In order to get a handle on what happened, lets go back a week. Here's a timeline of events leading up to, and following, the incident that are related to the investigation.
March 28, 2012: Petrino announces the hiring of Jessica Dorrell as Student-Athlete Development Coordinator. At the time, and by itself, the information didn't mean much. Dorrell, a former Razorbacks volleyball player, was hired to organize recruiting for the football team and assist with eligibility questions.
In hindsight, this quote from Petrino is more than a little ironic.
"Jessica Dorrell will be a great addition to our football program," said Coach Petrino. "As a former student-athlete she has an enthusiasm for the Razorbacks and is familiar with what the University of Arkansas can offer. She is extremely organized and has a professional approach, which should translate well into our program and recruiting as we continue to place an emphasis on this area."
April 1, 2012: Petrino is involved in a motorcycle accident around 6:45 p.m. local time. It was a single-vehicle crash, in which his motorcycle went off the road. Petrino was hospitalized, kept overnight and later released.
April 2, 2012: Arkansas releases a statement regarding the motorcycle accident. This is where things get a bit hairy (emphasis added).
"Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals. He is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Our family appreciates respect for our privacy during the recovery and we are grateful for the thoughts of Razorback fans at this time."
April 3, 2012: Petrino gets back to work, sporting a neck brace. Petrino also admitted he wasn't wearing a helmet during the crash, a reminder of just how bad things could've been. On the plus side, he was able to joke about the incident.
April 5, 2012: We learn Petrino was not alone on the motorcycle and everything goes off the rails with the quickness. Petrino was accompanied on the motorcycle by Dorrell, the Student-Athlete Development Coordinator he hired just last week. Petrino is married and Dorrell is engaged, as well. Suddenly, the statement from Arkansas on Monday, in which it is asserted the accident involved no other individuals, is called into question. The police report confirms Dorrell's presence, and she gave a statement following the crash.
Later that evening, Arkansas AD Jeff Long hastily called a press conference to discuss the Petrino "situation." In a written statement -- Petrino did not attend the press conference -- the Arkansas head coach admitted a "previous inappropriate relationship."
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.
In the speaking portion of the press gathering, Long tells the media he has placed Petrino on administrative leave with pay while he investigates the crash and relationship. Taver Johnson will assume the head coaching duties while Petrino is away.
And that just about brings us up to speed. However, considering the speed with which this story has progressed, odds are there's more to come. Long is hoping for a quick investigation, but doesn't yet know what he's looking for.
At this point, it doesn't look good for Petrino -- who apparently lied to his boss initially about the crash and his relationship with the women -- and that's before Long and the media begin looking deeper into the relationship and events surrounding the incident.