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Petrino apologizes for 'mistake in judgment,' is placed on leave

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer


Bobby Petrino has admitted to a "serious mistake in judgment" in not revealing the presence of Arkansas staffer Jessica Dorrell at his Sunday motorcycle accident, and has been placed on paid administrative leave by Razorback athletic director Jeff Long.

At a Thursday evening press conference, Long announced the decision, saying that he had received the information about Dorrell in a phone call from Petrino at 3:12 p.m. that afternoon.

Long declined to address Petrino's future employment as Arkansas's head coach or any timetable for the leave, saying only that he would take the time to "assess the review and get all the facts."

Petrino is forbidden from having any contact with his program, Long said. Assistant head coach Taver Johnson will assume Petrino's duties and coach Razorback spring practices.

In a statement issued at the press conference, Petrino said his motivation for not revealing Dorrell's presence was to "protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public." He began the statement by asserting that "the state police report provides an accurate description of my accident" and ended it with an apology "to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas."

Both Petrino and a statement issued by the university in the wake of Sunday's accident claimed that Petrino was alone when he lost control of his motorcycle and suffered cracked vertebrae and broken ribs. But an Arkansas State Police report made public Thursday revealed that Dorrell had also been riding on the motorcycle. Via the Arkansas Times, the report is available on as a PDF file here.

Dorrell holds a job with the Razorback Foundation as an Assistant Director, and has her bio available on the official Arkansas athletic department site. She was hired as the football team's student-athlete development coordinator only four days before the accident. A former All-SEC performer for the Arkansas volleyball team, Dorrell is engaged to a member of the Razorback swimming and diving team staff.

The statement issued by the university Monday stated that "Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals." Petrino said as much in his first public comments on Tuesday, though his description of the crash scene did include a "a lady there that had flagged down a car."

According to the police report, both Petrino and Dorrell were transported away from the crash site by a third party to a Fayetteville intersection near where Dorrell's car had been parked. Dorrell reported no injuries to police and left the intersection in her own vehicle.

The full text of Petrino's statement is as follows:
The state police report provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publicly come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publicly acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle. I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces. That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell's name being revealed. In my press conference, I referred to her simply as "a lady." My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public. In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details. Today, I've acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration.

I apologize to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas. I have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and get well wishes. I apologize to the Razorback Nation for the attention my actions have brought to the University of Arkansas and our program. I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my Athletic Direction, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.
 
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