Bobby Petrino, who had the Arkansas football team ranked as high as third and in the national championship conversation this past season, suddenly finds his coaching future in doubt.
Athletics director Jeff Long has begun a review of Petrino after revelations Thursday that he misled his superior and was caught in a lie in a television interview about the circumstances surrounding a motorcycle wreck Sunday. After saying he was alone on the bike, he had to admit that athletic department employee Jessica Dorrell was a passenger when the police report came out Thursday.
Petrino, 34-17 in four seasons and 21-5 over the last two, was placed on paid administrative leave. He also issued a statement expressing regret he was not forthcoming and apologizing to his family for a "previous inappropriate relationship."
He is in the second year of a seven-year contract that pays him an average of $3.53 million.
Long, at a late Thursday news conference, said he had no timeline in determining Petrino's future. "I'm at the beginning of the review," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to find."
Long said he was disappointed he didn't hear about Dorrell, a 25-year-old former Arkansas volleyball player, until Thursday.
Petrino, married with four children, didn't mention he had a passenger during a news conference Tuesday, and a school statement that day quoted Petrino's family as saying "no other individuals" were involved. In a video posted by KFSM-TV, Petrino was asked after that news conference if he had another passenger with him.
"Hey coach, you said you were alone on the bike, right?" the reporter asked.
"Yeah," Petrino said before continuing to walk away.
In Thursday's statement, Petrino admitted that he had kept quiet about Dorrell: "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, who did not return a call seeking comment, was hired March 28 by Petrino. Long said he had not decided whether to suspend Dorrell but would make that determination after speaking with her in more detail. He said he spoke to her briefly Thursday.
Petrino's contract, which was for an average of $3.53 million annually, had a clause in it that would allow Arkansas to dismiss Petrino for "engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of head football coach or which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university's) athletics programs in any way."
Briefly: Three more TCU football players have been charged with felony marijuana delivery after a six-month sting. Defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, linebacker Tanner Brock and offensive tackle Ty Horn were among 14 people charged in the drug investigation, bringing the total number charged to 23. All three are charged with delivering a quarter-ounce to 5 pounds of marijuana. Cornerback Devin Johnson was charged last month with three cases of delivering a quarter-ounce to 5 pounds of marijuana. The NCAA turned down Connecticut's final appeal on behalf of its men's basketball team for a waiver of recently instituted academic requirements -- a decision that likely will keep the Huskies out of next year's postseason. UConn doesn't qualify for the NCAA tournament because of several years of below-standard Academic Progress Rate scores.
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