Steve Barnes’ article on Petrino

Bobby Petrino and Jessica Dorrell

Bobby Petrino and Jessica Dorrell

Here is a fine article by Steve Barnes on the Petrino mess:

Steve Barnes: University, ASP respond admirably to Petrino mess

8:48 PM, Apr. 19, 2012

Although finding a new head coach, especially during spring training, is an ordeal sufficient for any university, and while the search leaves players and coaching staff in semi-limbo, the process gives sportswriters additional grist, for which they are always thankful. Sports radio chatterers have more reason to call in. But, the worst of the Bobby Petrino mess is behind us, presumably.

The second of the two parties at the center of the controversy departed this week, she being Jessica Dorrell, the young woman with whom Petrino had his “inappropriate relationship,” his apparently hand-picked “student-athlete development coordinator,” whose salary was $56,000. The suspense had become bearable: No one could envision circumstances in which she could continue at the university, and the only question was how and how soon she would depart. The answers to both came Tuesday.

The university confirmed it is paying Dorrell $14,000 from private funds to go away and to promise to never come back, to not write a book or pose for Playboy and, perhaps most important to resolving the matter for the UA, to not sue anybody for anything. Not the university, its trustees, its chancellor, Athletic Director Jeff Long — or Petrino. The separation agreement also stipulates that, from the university’s standpoint, Dorrell shall be forever after said to have resigned “in good standing.” Well, OK.

That leaves a couple pairs of cleats still dangling:

• There is the question of the UA’s liability to legal action by one or more of the 158 applicants who weren’t hired for Dorrell’s position, none of whom is known to have had quite the advantage in the selection process as she did. It is a process Long has acknowledged was not followed to university standards in Dorrell’s case.

• Also pending is an inquiry by the Arkansas State Police and the UA of any gifts given Capt. Lance King, commander of the ASP district that includes Fayetteville, and who served as Petrino’s bodyguard on game days and during road trips. Petrino summoned King after the motorcycle accident that eventually disclosed the coach’s relationship with Dorrell, his passenger. King, in no evident violation of any statute or regulation, transported Petrino to a hospital, Dorrell having made other arrangements. Changes could be coming in the ASP’s Razorback security duties.

Some further thoughts:

It is possible to overly praise Long for firing Petrino. The near-universal acclaim he won for doing the right thing overlooks that it was the only thing. The UA athletic director is an executive, a manager, the senior-most in an enterprise that employs nearly 200 coaches and support personnel, plays hundreds of student-athletes and spends $63 million annually. It’s bigger than most small businesses in Arkansas.

There was no hope, none, of keeping a lid on the problem, even had that been the instinct — and there is no evidence, none, that such was Long’s. No, facts (and rumors, some worse than the facts) were seeping through steadily widening cracks within hours of Petrino’s accident. Long had no choice but to begin his inquiry, and the body of fact he accumulated left him no other option if he wished to remain credible. If it’s difficult to separate the prudent from the necessary, carrying out the essential can be painful, and no one can doubt that Long’s dismissal of Petrino was personally as well as professionally wrenching.

Speaking of credibility: An earlier State Police, a State Police of a couple generations ago, might have been more … accommodating after a Petrino-type incident involving athletic bigshots. There is reason to believe there was, early on in the tumult, the suggestion, from someone close to Petrino (not King), that the ASP might handle the situation a bit … differently; if not necessarily with discretion (and what would that have meant?) then with a bit of, oh, tact in its official reports. Whatever such hints, and despite what must have been steady pressure from some Hog fans, the State Police evidently held firm, did its job. Unnoticed in accounts, official or journalistic, of the ASP’s interview with Petrino was that it dispatched not one but two officers, one of them a supervisor — an uncommon procedure. A demonstration of resolve? Maybe. But, the ASP’s credibility, which was on the line as surely as the university’s, has been bolstered.

Finally: Razorback fans and Razorbucks patrons can sometimes seem to believe the university’s primary mission is to entertain them a dozen Saturdays a year, its ultimate objective being a 13th Saturday. When Penn State fired Joe Paterno, students went on a rampage. An on-campus pro-Petrino rally at the UA attracted a reported 200 students from an enrollment of 23,000. The biggest financial boosters kept their cool, or their concern, close to their vests. Maturity and restraint prevailed in Arkansas, admirably.

Steve Barnes is a veteran Arkansas journalist and moderator of AETN’s “Arkansas This Week.”

Related posts:

Steve Barnes’ article on Petrino April 20, 2012 – 12:51 pm


Bobby Petrino’s phone records come out April 12, 2012 – 6:50 am

Jessica Dorrell and Bobby Petrino on ESPN together in 2011 April 12, 2012 – 6:38 am


How about a coach swap? :Charlie Strong to Arkansas and Bobby Petrino to Louisville April 11, 2012 – 7:37 am


Bobby Petrino statement April 11, 2012 – 6:51 am


Bobby Petrino fired, but now seeking forgiveness April 11, 2012 – 6:20 am


Video and transcript of Jeff Long’s press conference announcing firing of Bobby Petrino April 11, 2012 – 5:53 am


Bobby Petrino’s arrogance led to his downfall April 10, 2012 – 3:46 pm



Petrino 911 Call – Jessica Dorrell And Bobby Petrino Refuse Help April 9, 2012 – 7:03 am


Earlier concerns about Petrino’s character are coming back up again April 9, 2012 – 6:24 am


Bobby Petrino has achieved the American Dream, but still is looking for something more April 8, 2012 – 1:46 pm

Rex Nelson speculates that Petrino may be fired because “…trust has been so broken…” April 8, 2012 – 12:06 pm

Lying about Jessica Dorrell may get Bobby Petrino in a lot of trouble April 7, 2012 – 1:38 pm

Can Bobby Petrino, Tom Brady and Coldplay all find the satisfaction they are seeking? April 6, 2012 – 2:15 pm 

Bobby Petrino to survive this wreck? April 6, 2012 – 11:08 am

Pictures of Bobby Petrino April 6, 2012 – 9:11 am

Who is Jessica Dorrell? (with pictures) April 6, 2012 – 9:06 am

Major coverage of Bobby Petrino mistake April 6, 2012 – 6:51 am

What will be Jeff Long’s decision on Bobby Petrino? April 6, 2012 – 5:36 am

Bobby Petrino admits to an affair April 6, 2012 – 4:41 am

What impact will breaking trust with Bobby Petrino’s family have? April 6, 2012 – 4:24 am

Two choices now for Bobby Petrino: Follow the path of purity or impurity

If Bobby thinks he is bruised now, then he needs to read about the guy in Proverbs 7:10-27 and what happened to him. I really am hoping that Bobby Petrino can put his marriage back together. He has a clear choice between two paths. In the sermon at Fellowship Bible Church at July 24, 2011, […]

Jessica Dorrell was taking a long ride with Bobby Petrino April 5, 2012 – 4:52 pm

Bobby Petrino hurt in wreck (picture included) April 2, 2012 – 9:31 am

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