Arizona Fires Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez Following Misconduct Allegations

Rich Rodriguez is out as the head coach of Arizona following allegations of sexual harassment.

Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats looks on from the sidelines during the second half of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 48-28. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats

On Tuesday, the University of Arizona fired head coach Rich Rodriguez, ESPNreports. The firing comes after the school attempted to investigate sexual harassment allegations against the 54-year-old now ex-coach. That investigation had been going on since October, and also came prior to a "hostile-workplace lawsuit" which is set to be filed against Rodriguez.

"After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, President [Robert] 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," said the school's athletic director, Dave Heeke, in a statement.

According to ESPN, after the inquiry began the accuser hired a lawyer but also refused multiple requests to help with the investigation. In a letter written to the Arizona community by the school's president and AD, they reported that she was "unwilling to turn over communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations."

The investigation wrapped up last week, and according to Robbins and Heeke the accusations could not be substantiated. However, they also said that "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."

They expanded upon that by saying "As a result, we have been reviewing the finding and deliberating our course of action. While this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision. And it is a decision that lives up to the core values of the University of Arizona."

Rodriguez denied the sexual harassment allegations, though he did admit to having an extramarital affair in an official statement. The statement also said that he learned of his termination by email, and that his affair was with someone who has no affiliation with the U of Arizona:

Rich Rodriguez was fired at #Arizona without cause. I'm told by a source at U of A this move was strictly for football reasons and due to the direction of the program.

— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 3, 2018

ESPN adds that on Thursday the unnamed ex-employee filed a $7.5 million notice of claim that says Rodriguez ran a hostile workplace. For those unfamiliar, that means a future lawsuit is soon to be filed. ESPN obtained a copy of that notice of claim and learned that the woman says the former coach "forced her to keep his extramarital affair a secret while also groping and attempting to kiss her among other actions that made the woman uncomfortable."

She further alleges that players on the team sent her dick pics in addition to "illicit overtures" that were ignored by Rodriguez when she asked him to intervene. She also says that last January he "touched the side of her breast and tried to kiss her" before offering her $300 to not tell his wife or her husband about the encounter. In fact, a detailed breakdown of her charges towards Rodriguez can be found here.

As for Rodriguez's fate, I would guess that these accusations combined with his mediocre to bad coaching track record (which includes three lousy years at Michigan) will make it highly unlikely that he gets another FBS head coaching job. However, Arizona did state that they will honor his "university-funded compensation" which means he'll get paid a total of $5.46 million through May 31, 2020.

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