Have to blog about something that’s on my heart tonight.
The football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks has been fired. Bobby Petrino was by all accounts a stellar head football coach. The team showed consistent improvement under his leadership. Last year, we nearly won the national championship. Everyone was excited about this coming football season.
Then, on April Fools Day, Coach Petrino wrecked his motorcycle. That wasn’t the bad part. He had a 25 year-old blonde volleyball star on the bike with him. She wasn’t hurt as far as we know, but Petrino thought it was best that no one find out about her. He is married with four children. So he lied to the University and the press. He said he was the only one involved. Unfortunately, the cover up failed. A police report identified his companion. She was his newly-hired player development coordinator. She had not been on the job even a full week. As it turns out, Petrino had an ongoing relationship with her and had given her $20,000 as a “gift.” No wonder he selected her over the other 159 applicants. Another gift, I suppose (perhaps to himself).
People held rallies to support him. They called into radio stations to plead for alternative punishment. But, in the end, the University fired him.
At first, I was appalled by the idea that Petrino could lose his job due to infidelity. After all, a good coach is hard to find. But, I have come to realize that the decision was based on much more than that. Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said it best: this was an abuse of power. It is one thing to have dalliances in your personal life. But when you let those affairs affect your professional decision-making, the line has been crossed. You are then jeopardizing the integrity of the institution to further your own nepotistic desires. Not to mention a sexual harrassment claim waiting to happen.
Petrino should not have hired his lover for a key position on his staff. The university was right to fire him.
It’s a sad day for Arkansas football.