Arizona has fired Rich Rodriguez.
The school announced the decision Tuesday night, shortly after reports of his possible firing were floated. According to USA Today, the school was “weighing” the possibility of firing Rodriguez, in part because of a harassment complaint against him.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, a “multi-million dollar” notice of claim against Rodriguez alleging a hostile work environment was filed Thursday. Here’s what the school revealed about the allegations against Rodriguez in an open letter Tuesday night.
The school said allegations against Rodriguez could not be substantiated but that it found information during the course of its investigation that caused worry about the “direction and climate” of the football program.
“In October 2017, the University’s Office of Institutional Equity retained outside counsel to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Rodriguez, after a former employee in the Department of Athletics alleged that Mr. Rodriguez harassed her on multiple occasions. Like all University employees, Mr. Rodriguez is entitled to a fair investigation and due process and at no time has the University believed that Mr. Rodriguez posed any danger to a member of the community.
“The law firm of Cohen Dowd Quigley was retained by the Office of Institutional Equity to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the allegations made by the former employee, and that investigation began in October. After her initial report to the University in October, the former employee retained counsel and declined multiple requests from the University to participate in the investigation into her allegations.
In addition, she was unwilling to turn over communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations and recently filed a notice of a financial claim against Mr. Rodriguez. The investigation, which concluded on December 28, 2017, found that the original specific harassment allegations against Mr. Rodriguez could not be substantiated based on the evidence and witnesses available to it.
However, Arizona Athletics did become aware of information, both before and during the investigation, which caused it to be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program. As a result, we have been reviewing the findings and deliberating our course of action. While this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision. And it is a decision that lives up to the core values of the University of Arizona.
In a statement, Rodriguez denied any wrongdoing but said the complaint included details of an extramarital affair “with a woman who is not affiliated with the University.”
“It was wrong and I have apologized to my wife and family,” he said. “I am still working incredibly hard to repair the bonds I’ve broken and regain the trust of my wife and children, whom I love dearly.”
The notice of claim alleges, among other things, that Rodriguez and his closest aides followed a “hideaway book” that detailed such sayings as “Title IX doesn’t exist in our office.” Those who had the most interaction with Rodriguez — the former employee and two assistant coaches — referred to themselves as the “Triangle of Secrecy,” according to the claim. The three were charged with lying to Rodriguez’s wife to cover up an extramarital affair, according to the claim, and were ordered to protect the coach’s reputation above all else.
The former employee said in the claim that she “had to walk on eggshells at work, because of (Rodriguez’s) volatility and sheer power over the department.” Rodriguez would call her at all hours of the night, she said in the claim, to change travel plans or deal with Rodriguez’s personal emergencies. In the claim, the former employee said she became increasingly troubled by Rodriguez over the past year. She suffered migraines as a result, the claim states.
Rodriguez went 43-35 in six seasons with the Wildcats. He came to Arizona a year after his three-year run at Michigan ended. In tenures at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona Rodriguez is 118-83.
Arizona will pay Rodriguez his $6 million buyout. And it is the second-straight year a Pac-12 coach has been fired in January. Cal fired Sonny Dykes in January 2017.
Arizona finished the season 7-6 after losing to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl. Arizona QB Khalil Tate became one of the country’s most dynamic players as the season went on, averaging 9.2 yards per carry and rushing for over 1,400 yards. The school said it will start a search for a new coach immediately.
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