Arizona fired Rich Rodriguez as head football coach tonight after a former athletics department employee accused him of sexual harassment; a university investigation into those accusations found “information” that led the department to be “concerned,” according to a statement from the university.
Per the university, the investigation was closed last week after specific harassment claims could not be proven with the given evidence. “However, 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 statement goes on to say.
The former employee who accused Rodriguez has filed a notice of claim with the state, saying she intends to sue the university. The Arizona Daily Star has an excerpt of that document:
The notice of claim alleges, among other things, that Rodriguez and his closest aides followed a “hideaway book” that detailed such sayings as “Title IX doesn’t exist in our office.” Those who had the most interaction with Rodriguez — the former employee and two assistant coaches — referred to themselves as the “Triangle of Secrecy,” according to the claim. The three were charged with lying to Rodriguez’s wife on his behalf, according to the claim.
Rodriguez reportedly was fired without cause and the original terms of his contract will be honored, meaning that he should receive his full $6.3 million buyout. The full statement from the university is below.
Arizona made the announcement shortly after USA Today published a story saying that the university was considering firing Rodriguez following the workplace misconduct investigation and the team’s 0-3 finish to end the season.
Update (11:31 p.m. ET): Rodriguez has posted a statement of his own. He mentions some details that were not present in the university’s statement, including that the employee who filed the allegations was his former administrative assistant and that the potential lawsuit was for $7.5 million.
He calls her claims “baseless and false” and says that the university “determined that there was no truth to any of her accusations and found me innocent of any wrongdoing.” That’s markedly different from the language the university used to describe the investigation’s conclusion, which was that “the specific harassment allegations could not be substantiated based on the evidence and witnesses available to it.”