The Arizona Wildcats fired Rich Rodriguez their football coach on Tuesday after his sixth season at the helm. The firing follows an allegation of sexual misconduct that the university started investigating last October as well as a lawsuit that involved hostile-workplace that is set to be filed in an Arizona court this week.
After a complete evaluation had been conducted of the football program as well as its leaders both on field and off, the school president Robert Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke decided it was in the school’s best interest to take a different direction, said a statement posted by the school.
In a letter to the school’s community, Robbins and Heeke said the Office of Institutional Equity hired a law firm to carry out an investigation of the allegation a former employee had made against Rodriguez, who is 54.
After that investigation had started, the ex-employee hired attorneys and did not accept several requests to take part in their investigation of the allegations she filed and was not willing to turn communications over that she had alleged offered support to the allegations she had made, said the letter.
University Finds No Wrongdoing
The school’s investigation, which ended December 28, determined that the allegations made were not able to be substantiated, but Robbins and Heeke said the athletic department at the school became aware of other information, both prior to as well as during the time of the investigation was cause for concern with the path in which the football program was taking.
Because of that, the school decided that taking a new direction, while difficult, was the correct decision.
Rodriguez Issues Statement
Late Tuesday, Rodriguez issued his own statement saying he was told about being fired through email. He admitted that he had had an extramarital affair, but that the person who he had the affair with was not affiliated with the school. He denied the allegations related to harassment made against him. He added that the ex-employee had threatened him with a lawsuit of $7.5 million.
The statement released by Rodriguez said he fully cooperated during the investigation by the school and that included voluntarily offering to take a polygraph and passing it. His statement added that the school’s investigation determined no truth existed to the accusations and he was found to be innocent of wrongdoing.
The ex-employee last Thursday filed a notice of claim for $7.5 million with the attorney general’s offices of Arizona alleging that Rodriguez operated a hostile workplace.
Arizona said it was going to honor the clause in Rodriguez’s contract related to separation. The contract was good through May 31, 2020. The school must pay 100% of what is left on what it called his “university-funded compensation”, which amount to $5.46 million.
Arizona announced it would be hiring a search firm to assist the school with a national search for a new head coach.
Rodriguez and his Wildcats started their 2017 season 6-2 before going 1-4 in their final five games to finish 7-6. In what was his final game as the head coach Arizona lost to Purdue 38-35 in the Foster Farms Holiday Bowl on December 27.
Career with Arizona
During his six seasons with Arizona, Rodriguez was 43-35 averaging just less than six wins during the final three season. Prior to joining Arizona, Rodriguez was 15-22 at Michigan and 60-26 with West Virginia.
Under his tutelage the Wildcats played in five bowl games including the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. Prior to his arrival, the Wildcats played in just three bowl games over a 13-year span.
With the firing Tuesday of Rodriguez, there are now five football head coach vacancies in the Pac-12. Thus far, Arizona State, Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA and now Arizona are searching for new head coaches prior to the start of the 2018 season.
How do you feel? Was Arizona too quick in firing Rodriguez?