Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has been placed on administrative leave after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with Jessica Dorrell following a motorcycle accident.
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long announced on Thursday night that the university decided to place Petrino on paid administrative leave indefinitely as it tries to sort everything out.
I expect to move very expeditiously in my review of this personnel matter and hope to have a resolution soon, Long said, adding that he did not know yet if Dorrell would also be suspended from her position at the university.
The announcement came after Petrino released a statement admitting that his initial story about a motorcycle accident over the weekend wasn't truthful. At the time Petrino and the school announced that he was the only one involved in an accident that resulted in broken ribs and cracked vertebrae for the football coach. He told police and his school that a lady flagged down another driver to get medical attention for him.
But a police report released Thursday indicated that Petrino was actually riding the motorcycle with the 25-year-old Dorrell, an attractive blonde Arkansas athletic department staffer. The report indicated that Dorrell was riding on the back and that he was suddenly, for an unknown reason, unable to maneuver a turn and lost control of his vehicle.
That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell's name being revealed, Petrino said in a statement. 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.
Dorrell is a former volleyball player at Arkansas and currently serves as the student-athlete development coordinator for football. She previously worked as a fundraiser for the Razorbacks Foundation and was planning on getting married in June to another athletic department employee. When she was officially introduced as a member of the football staff, Petrino gave her a glowing review.
Jessica Dorrell will be a great addition to our football program, he said. 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.
Petrino is married with four children and is entering his fifth year as the coach at Arkansas. He will be replaced on an interim basis by linebackers coach Taver Johnson. He could be fired for a multitude of reasons, including the hiring of his mistress for an athletic department position.
It's unclear just how long the two carried on an inappropriate relationship, but Outkick the Coverage's Clay Travis notes that hiring Dorrell might violate Arkansas state laws because it is a public institution. It also could violate the Arkansas employee handbook if Petrino knowingly promoted a woman he was seeing.