The University of Arizona fired its head football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday, after allegations of misconduct came to light.
A $7.5 million notice of claim filed in the state attorney general’s office in Arizona alleged that Rodriguez, 54, was responsible for a “hostile workplace environment,” according to the Tucson Daily Star. The notice also includes an allegation of sexual harassment against Rodriguez.
"While this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision," a statement from the University of Arizona President Robert C Robbins and and Athletic Director Dave Heeke published on Tuesday night read. "And it is a decision that lives up to the core values of the University of Arizona."
The claim against Rodriguez was filed last October by a former employee in the athletics department, who alleged sexual harassment by the Chicago, Illinois, native on “several occasions,” according to USA Today. That publication also reported that the University of Arizona has “grown uncomfortable with the direction of the program on the field.” The Wildcats went 7-6 this season to finish in third place in the PAC-12 South Conference, losing in the Foster Farms Bowl to Purdue on December 28 having failed to make the postseason last year.
Rodriguez responded to the decision to fire him via Twitter later on Tuesday night. “I was deeply disappointed to learn by email this evening that the University of Arizona is buying out my contract,” he wrote. Rodriguez, who coached the Michigan Wolverines for two years before he took the job with Arizona, ended the statement by saying: “The University initiated a thorough outside investigation [into the allegations]. I fully cooperated with the investigation, including voluntarily taking and passing a polygraph. The University determined that there was no truth to her accusations and found me innocent of any wrongdoing.” Rodriguez also described his accuser’s financial settlement demands as “outrageous.”
Rodriguez said the claim included a “single truth”—a “consensual extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the University.”
ESPN reported on Wednesday that former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is favorite to succeed Rodriguez.
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