Rich Rodriguez has been fired as the Arizona Wildcats head coach, the school announced Tuesday night.
As first reported by USA Today’s Dan Wolken, the circumstances of his firing surround a potential lawsuit for workplace misconduct:
The school also has been dealing with a troubling allegation behind the scenes that led school officials last fall to hire an outside law firm to investigate Rodriguez for potential workplace misconduct, according to the people with knowledge of the probe. Though no misconduct was determined by the probe, which Rodriguez cooperated with fully, a former administrative assistant subsequently has threatened to file a lawsuit against him.
Have heard there are two college programs dealing with MeToo allegations involving coaches. Arizona is apparently one of them. https://t.co/MtKPE0uznq— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 3, 2018
Notice of claim to Attorney General's office is a sexual harassment/hostile work place claim against Rich Rodriguez— Greg Hansen (@ghansen711) January 3, 2018
Rodriguez finished with a 3-9 season last year, and a 7-6 finish in 2017, capped off with a loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl last week. His overall record is 43-35 at Arizona. A statement from the university suggests off-field factors were indeed in play, however:
“After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, President [Robert C.] Robbins and I feel it is in the best interest of the University of Arizona and our athletics department to go in a new direction,” Arizona AD Dave Heeke said in a statement.
Rodriguez released a statement shortly after the announcement of his firing, in which he denied any wrongdoing regarding the investigation.
If Rodriguez is fired with cause (meaning, for reasons beyond just on-field product), it would cost him at least $10.2 million, including more than $3 million that would be owed, or vested, to Rodriguez if he’s still the Wildcats head coach March 15. His current contract goes through May 31, 2020.
Below is a letter to University of Arizona staff regarding the matter:
We will update this story with more information.