Former Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez serially harassed his assistant, including grabbing his penis in front of her, trying to kiss her, telling her “I love you” in a text message, and making her cover for his extramarital affair, according to a notice of claim she filed last month with the state attorney general’s office. After Rodriguez grabbed his penis in front of her, the woman and another employee nicknamed Rodriguez “the predator,” according to the claim. When she tried to transfer to another department, she was told by another university official that Rodriguez wouldn’t allow that to happen.
The woman left in July of last year, when she got a new job outside the university. The claim was filed on Dec. 28, but wasn’t reported on until the Arizona Daily Star said it had obtained part of it last night. Deadspin obtained the full claim today. Filing a notice of claim is an early step in the process of suing a public university in Arizona.
UA fired Rodriguez yesterday. In a statement announcing the firing, the university said it was unable to substantiate the initial harassment complaint “based on the evidence and witnesses available to it” but came away from its own investigation “concerned with the direction and the culture of the football program.” Rodriguez released a lengthy statement last night claiming that the allegations are not true.
Below is a summary, based on the claim filed, of what the woman says happened to her while she worked for Rodriguez.
The woman was first hired by the University of Arizona in 2001. She eventually became an assistant in the football operations department while Mike Stoops was head coach. In 2011, Stoops left the university, and recommended she stay on as an assistant under Rodriguez when he became head coach.
According to the claim, the plaintiff felt comfortable working for Rodriguez for the first two years, until, in 2013, she says he created something called “The Hideaway Book,” which established what she says were a ghost set of procedures for coaches and a few members of the football operations staff. “The Hideaway Book” attempted to help Rodriguez conceal his infidelity from his wife, according to his former assistant, and that the document contained the line: “Title IX doesn’t exist in our office.”
For the next three years, Rodriguez’s assistant says she was was put in situations where she was to lie to his wife and shield him from her learning of his infidelity, she says. In November 2015, she says she had to act as a buffer between Rodriguez’s wife and girlfriend on the sideline during one game. She says she told Rodriguez she uncomfortable with that situation, and he “laughed it off.” In May 2016, “Rodriguez’s wife asked [her] out to lunch,” she says. “It became a 3-hour interrogation of sorts to find out what [she] knew about Rodriguez’s flirting and promiscuity.” The assistant says in the claim she did not divulge any information to Rodriguez’s wife at that time.
During the 2016 football season, according to the assistant’s claim, Rodriguez began to sexually harass her.
In January 2017, his assistant says Rodriguez called her into his office to discuss his marital issues, then groped and tried to kiss her.
At this point, she says she decided she wanted to leave the department, but because her daughter was in school at the university, she did not want to leave entirely because it would have affected her daughter’s tuition. Before she took steps for a transfer, she said:
She says she did request a transfer after that, but was told by senior associate athletics director Mike Ketcham that it wouldn’t be possible because it would upset Rodriguez too much.
She says Ketcham later told her there were no positions available in his department, though she says there were public job listings at the time.
After this, the assistant says Rodriguez continued to attempt to give her money. When she reported an incident where Rodriguez asked her to come over to help him with his pet dog one evening while his wife and daughter were away—which included a series of text messages in which Rodriguez said “You know I love you” with a kissing-face emoji—she says assistant athletic director Mike Parrish told her that “We don’t need that in the office, but I am more concerned with his misuse of funds.”
In July 2017, the woman took another job with an insurance company owned by a major donor who she’d worked with through the university. She says the move was specifically so she could get away from Rodriguez. She says she decided she would leave quietly as not to disturb the jobs of other people in the department, who she says were aware of Rodriguez’s harassment.
On the woman’s last day with the university on Aug. 11, 2017, she says Rodriguez’s wife came to the office and began demanding information from the assistant about Rodriguez’s girlfriend. It was then, she says, she “admitted she knew about the girlfriend and apologized for not telling her sooner.”
The claim closes by asking to settle “all claims they may have against Richard A. Rodriguez, his wife, and their martial community for $7,500,000.”