clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The National, 4/6/12: It's Not About Morals. Really.

As we're all certainly aware at this point, Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino is now on administrative leave after it was discovered that he was not, in fact, alone on that motorcycle Sunday night. The story has erupted into a soap opera-worthy pageturner for those who are into that sort of thing; the very married Petrino admitted to an "inappropriate relationship", the young lady in question is engaged to the director of operations for the Arkansas swimming and diving program, and oh yes, the young lady was hired (merely three days before the accident!) as the Student-Athlete Development Coordinator for the Razorback football program. That job entailed the organization of on-campus recruiting (re: walk-ons) and helping navigate the eligibility process.

Obviously, the vast majority of people discussing this are focusing on morals and honesty and all the other wonderful things that titillate us when we're watching Doctors Having Torrid Affairs or whatever that show is with McDorky and McSmarmy, but there's a much bigger issue here which will ultimately decide Bobby Petrino's fate.

And in some ways, it's one which actually has portions of the K-State fanbase a little miffed, too.

Let's be honest here. If this was just a case of Bobby Petrino laying some pipe with someone who happens to not be his lawfully-wedded bride, the University of Arkansas wouldn't care. They'd make some statements, act a little disappointed, then tell him to get out there and win 11 games again. Even lying-by-omission to the athletic department, in and of itself, wouldn't be that huge an issue. He might still have been suspended for a bit to make a point for PR purposes, but it would be with a wink and a nod.

This situation is a real problem for the Razorbacks for a couple of reasons having nothing to do with Petrino's libido. The first (and far lesser) concern is that you've now got a highly-placed staffer in another program on campus who, quite frankly, would probably like to meet the already-banged-up Petrino in a dark alley with a few of his friends and a selection of tire irons. Not that this is going to happen, but when you have a very public situation such as this between members of the department, it's never going to end well. Second, Petrino was in a supervisory workplace position over his mistress. That opens both Petrino and the university up to potential legal action and may be in violation of the university's sexual harassment policies. Third, there's the matter of the propriety of Petrino having hired Jessica Dorrell in the first place, given what we now know. The university is going to have to act in some fashion unless by some miracle this all get swept under the rug and everyone involved agrees to forget about it.

It's that third thing that ties into K-State, of course. Whenever you hire someone with a personal tie, it's going to create problems. In our case, at least, that personal tie has always been completely out in the open, yet it still generates concern and some level of opprobrium. Can you imagine Panjandrum's reaction if Bill Snyder had secretly hired his mistress?* These sorts of things become even more embittering when the job market's rough and money is tight. Did Petrino hire Dorrell ahead of other candidates for a posted position, which would be seen as more than a little unfair? Did he create the position in order to give her an unneccessary job, wasting the university's money? (She was hired for the position the day it was posted, so it's pretty apparent that the latter was true unless a bunch of people applied immediately.) These are the real questions facing Arkansas, and the only reason for following this story at this point unless you really, really miss All My Children and One Life to Live.

* - Right, as if Bill Snyder would even have time** for a mistress.

** - Even if he did, I guess it's safe to assume she wouldn't be an associate head coach in charge of special teams.

Other stuff from the week:

Howard University was at first reported to have suspended its entire athletic program in order to investigate potential NCAA violations. It turned out to be a misstatement, as they were merely suspending a significant number of athletes, but they still have a huge problem: the athletic department issued vouchers to their scholarship athletes in order to get their textbooks, and made the mistake of essentially letting them keep the change. This, of course, is eerily similar to the situation which landed the entire Nebraska Cornhusker athletic program on probation last year, and Howard's in deep doo-doo no matter what because "lack of institutional control", that's why.

Jim Delany's once again embarrassed himself by trying to make the Big Ten out to be more important than everyone else, and the less said about this the better. Suffice it to say that even though he's now putatively on board with a small playoff, he wants to have it his way, and he's almost certainly going to be obstructionist as all hell about it if he doesn't get his way.

Connecticut lost its appeal against the APR suspension they'll be serving next year, which means that UConn's season will end before the Big East Tournament even begins. I'm sure we can all get together in pointing and giggling when the time comes.

The Big 12 won both major post-season women's basketball tournaments in the last week. Oklahoma State knocked off James Madison 75-68 Saturday to claim the WNIT crown, while those of you who don't live in caves are aware that Baylor drilled Notre Dame to complete a brilliant 40-0 season to claim their second NCAA title in eight years.

Finally, our old RMN pal Bill Connelly is churning out his pre-season stat profiles and team previews, one day at a time. Over at Football Study Hall is a very convenient "here's what we've done so far" cheat sheet which serves as an absolutely indispensable table of contents, and I strongly recommend you bookmark it.

Check out Arkansas Expats, SBNation's Arkansas Razorback blog, for continuing coverage of the Petrino situation.