story courtesy of 5NEWS, a content partner with The City Wire, and also courtesy of the Arkansas Times
Editor's note: Updated with commentary from Chris Rushing, the SEC reporter for The City Wire
Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino has been placed on paid administrative leave while University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long investigates details of an April 1 motorcycle wreck involving Petrino and a female staffer of the athletic department.
Jessica Dorrell, 25, of Elkins, was on motorcycle with Arkansas football Coach Bobby Petrino when it crashed Sunday, an Arkansas State Police report released Thursday says.
Coach Petrino said Tuesday he was alone when he crashed his motorcycle on Highway 16 near the Crosses community in Madison County Sunday evening.
Contacted by telephone Thursday, Dorrell told 5NEWS, “I’m not ready to comment at this time.”
Petrino admitted in a statement released Thursday (April 5) that he had an inappropriate relationship with Dorrell. (See end of story for full statement from Petrino.)
On March 28, Dorrell was named a Student-Athlete Development Coordinator, according to a media release from the University. She’s also a former member of the Razorback volleyball team.
Petrino wore a neck brace to the news conference which he said he is wearing because of the damage to his C2 vertebra. He also said he had a cracked or broken rib. Petrino said he wasn’t speeding on the curves of the two-lane highway, but that the sun and a gust of wind may be to blame for the accident.
When asked if he had been given a blood alcohol test after the accident, Petrino said: “I was given blood tests, but I absolutely had nothing to drink. I spent the day at the lake with my wife working. She works me hard when I’m up there. But I absolutely had no alcohol in my system.”
Link here for more of the story from 5NEWS, and for the 5NEWS transcript of the Petrino news conference.
Updated Info — commentary from Chris Rushing, SEC reporter for The City Wire: The never-ending game that is recruiting is going to be affected adversely by this situation, whether Petrino and Co. want to admit it or not. It took a long time for Petrino to shed the "job hopper" label that flew from Atlanta to Fayetteville with him in December 2007.
While the recruiting rankings haven't always looked favorably on the Arkansas football program, it's hard to argue with the skill players Petrino's staff has collected on the offensive side of the ball in his four-plus years at the helm of UA. His demeanor and personality isn't exactly warming to most, and other coaching staffs (most likely the newest ones in College Station and Columbia, Mo.) will be quick to point out this as a character flaw to prep stars.
Unfortunately for Petrino and his staff, facts don't always matter in public perception and they rarely matter in recruiting — a season that doesn't understand the concept of due process.
The sooner Jeff Long and the Arkansas athletic department can get this news off the front page and airwaves, the better off the football program will be.
University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long has scheduled a press conference for 9 p.m., tonight (April 5).
Max Brantley, with the Little Rock-based Arkansas Times, posted more pointed commentary about the new revelation.
Brantley wrote: No other individuals? When did the UA, if ever, learn its statement was incorrect and why wasn't it corrected?
Petrino, in the press conference Tuesday, said his wife had been working him hard Sunday before he went out on the ride.
For the record, this is the general outline of Petrino's $4 million-a-year employment contract. It says that he may be terminated for "...engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of Head Football Coach or adversely affects the reputation of the University or UAF's Athletic Program in any way."
You may now invoke the time-honored maxim about crimes and coverups.
My questions to the athletic department:
What's Jessica Dorrell's pay and tenure at UA?
What is the nature of her relationship with Petrino?
When did the UA find out Petrino was not alone in the accident, contrary to its statement Sunday?
Why didn't the UA correct the statement?
Does Athletic Director Jeff Long think Petrino has been truthful with the public in responding to questions about the accident?
Does Jeff Long think the UA has been truthful in responding to questions about the accident?
Will the UA look further into the relationship between Petrino and a subordinate?
Has anything occurred here that merits further review by the administration relative to Petrino's handling of his contractual duties as football coach, particularly his obligation to uphold the "character and responsibilities" of the person in his position and not do anything damaging to the UA or the Athletic program?
STATEMENT FROM COACH BOBBY PETRINO
“The state police report today provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publically come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publically acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle. I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces.
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.
“I apologize to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas.
“I have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and get-well wishes. I apologize to the Razorback Nation for the attention my actions have brought to the University of Arkansas and our program. I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my Athletic Director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.”