Firing Bobby Petrino over his relationship with Jessica Dorrell has paid off for the University of Arkansas, literally.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a Las Vegas-based private foundation that has given gifts to the university in the past, cited Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long's courageous leadership in firing Petrino as the reason for a new $1.25 million gift for the university.
The courageous leadership demonstrated by Jeff Long in the course of recent events has further affirmed our confidence in his leadership and his vision for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Arkansas, Reynolds Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman Fred W. Smith said. Mr. Long acted with integrity and with the best interests of the Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas in mind.
Petrino was fired as the university's football coach for his relationship with Jessica Dorrell, whom he hired as the student-athlete development coordinator for the Arkansas football program.
She was hired over more than 159 applicants, according to Sports Illustrated, and her relationship with Petrino was described by the former coach as inappropriate.
The affair between the married Petrino and the 25-year-old Dorrell came to light when Petrino got into an accident on his motorcycle April 1. Petrino did not disclose that Dorrell was his passenger when the incident occurred, but that information came out when the police report of the incident was released.
Arkansas said the gift was an unexpected result of Petrino's firing.
The foundation's board approved a $1 million gift to help fund the university's planned Student-Athlete Success Center, billed as a multi-purpose academic resource and study center and dining hall for the 460 student-athletes at the university.
Smith also made a $250,000 personal donation to the school to support the project. The university's existing student-athlete development program will be renamed the Jeff Long Student-Athlete Development Program.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is pleased to make a gift to assist in the construction of a new Student-Athlete Success Center and to create the Jeff Long Student-Athlete Development Program at the University of Arkansas, Smith said. For more than 57 years, the Reynolds Foundation has identified and financially supported organizations and their leaders whose vision is to make a lasting impact in the lives of others.
Long said he was taken aback by the foundation's decision to give the gift because of his actions.
When Chancellor Gearhart called to tell me that the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and Fred Smith had made substantial gifts in my name to our university, I was surprised and truly humbled, Long said. I am extremely grateful to the Reynolds Foundation and the Smith family for their continued investment in the lives of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas. They have been long time advocates of the Razorbacks, the university and the entire state of Arkansas. Their generosity will help us meet our mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics. Our student-athlete development program remains a focus of our department and of great importance to me.
David Gearhart, chancellor of the university, was grateful for the gift.
The university is extremely fortunate to have the support of the Reynolds Foundation board as well as the support of Fred Smith and his family, Gearhart said. Their generous gifts represent an impressive and meaningful expression of support for-and trust in-the leader of Razorback athletics. They also represent a strong commitment to the young women and men who represent our university in intercollegiate athletics as students and as athletes. Both the Reynolds Foundation and the Smith family are making clear their belief in our university and its future.