By Harry Alexander / SoAzNewsX
Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired yesterday over allegations of sexual harassment, according to Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke.
Rodriguez was accused of sexual harassment against an unnamed former employee in the athletics department charged she was harassed by Rodriguez on multiple occasions. An investigation was opened in October 2017.
The university hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims. The former employee filed her claim against the university and retained an attorney.
“She refused to participate in the investigation of her allegations,” according to a letter written by University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins and Athletic Director Dave Heeke. That letter was circulated around the campus to explain the dismal of Rodriguez. “In addition, she was unwilling to turn over communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations and recently filed a notice of a financial claim against Rodriguez,” the letter stated.
The university said the investigation concluded in late December 2017 without being able to substantiate the original allegations based on the evidence collected and the witnesses who were interviewed.
“Arizona Athletics did become aware of information, both before and during the investigation, which caused it to be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program,” the letter stated.
“After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, President Robbins and I feel it is in the best interest of the University of Arizona and our athletics department to go in a new direction,” Heeke said. “We’ll move through the coaching search in an effort to identify a head coach that will build a solid foundation for our program and create an identity of Arizona football that the University, Tucson and Southern Arizona communities can be proud of. We’re excited about the future of our football program and we look forward to introducing our new head coach at the completion of the search process.”
Arizona fired Rodriguez without cause and said in a news release it will “honor the separation terms of his contract,” which would include a $6.3 million buyout.
Rodriguez’s contract this season included a retention-bonus plan that placed him among the highest-paid coaches in the nation.
Rodriguez came to Arizona in 2012, winning 10 games and appearing in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2014 season. Arizona lost Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl after the 2017 season.
The university said a nationwide search will get underway to replace Rodriguez.
“We are confident that we will find a new leader of our program who will take us to great heights with men and women of character and talent, on and off of the field,” according to the university.
Speculation early Wednesday turned to Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Memphis’ Mike Norvell, Utah State’s Matt Wells and Syracuse’s Dino Babers, who was an assistant at Arizona from 1995-2000, as potential replacements, reported AzCentral.com.
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