Petrino placed on paid administrative leave pending internal investigation

University of Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long speaks with the media during a Thursday night press conference.

Staff photo

Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of a university investigation into the details surrounding his Sunday evening motorcycle accident, said athletics director Jeff Long.

The news came in a late-night press conference following the release of a statement from Petrino acknowledging an “inappropriate relationship” possibly with a female football staff member who, according to Arkansas State Police, was a passenger on Petrino’s motorcycle during the crash.

The state police report lists Jessica Dorrell, 25, of Elkins, as the passenger. Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player, was recently named as the student-athlete development coordinator for football. According to the report, Dorrell was not injured in the crash.

The news conflicts with a statement from the Petrino family which came in a release from the University of Arkansas claiming the accident “involved no other individuals.”

Long said he talked to Petrino Thursday afternoon about the situation.

“He admitted that he’d not been totally forthcoming and forthright with me about the accident,” said Long.

Long said linebackers coach Taver Johnson will serve as interim head coach in Petrino’s absence.

Here is the statement from Petrino:

The state police report today provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publicly come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publicly acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle. I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces. That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell’s name being revealed. In my press conference, I referred to her simply as ‘a lady’. My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public. In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgement 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.

I apologize to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas. I have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and get-well wishes. I apologize to the Razorback Nation for the attention my actions have brought to the University of Arkansas and our program. I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my Athletic Director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.