The University of Arkansas landed a $1.25 million donation for the way athletic director Jeff Long handled Bobby Petrino's dismissal.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation approved a $1 million gift to the school's Student-Athlete Success Center citing Long's courageous leadership. Fred W. Smith, the foundation's chair, is also pledging an additional $250,000 to the center after Petrino was dismissed following an extramarital affair with Jessica Dorrell, a football team staffer.
Long made the tough decision on April 10th to fire the extremely successful Petrino after he consciously misled the public and the athletic department about his involvement with Dorrell. Petrino carried on a seven month relationship with the 25-year-old former Arkansas volleyball player.
Petrino had won 21 games in his last two seasons at Arkansas and had the Razorbacks geared for a potential championship season under his helm. Arkansas could have had its best season in decades with Petrino guiding the way next season, but Long decided that he couldn't allow a coach that viewed himself above the entire university to continue on in that position.
Arkansas decided to fire Petrino with cause -- meaning he won't be owed any of the $18 million remaining on his contract -- after he lied about an April 1st motorcycle accident. He initially told Long and the athletic department that he was riding alone in a crash that left him with broken ribs and cracked vertebrae, but later admitted to riding along with Dorrell.
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He made the decision, a conscious decision, to mislead the public on Tuesday, and in doing so negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas and our football program, Long said on April 10th. In short, coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident.
The decision to dismiss Petrino might not have been well-liked amongst Arkansas fans, but the $1.5 million gift shows that someone values placing morals over SEC football victories.