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Petrino won’t appeal firing, mistress put on paid leave

The fallout from the Bobby Petrino scandal at Arkansas appears to have only begun.

The fallout from the Bobby Petrino scandal at Arkansas appears to have only begun.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas put the former mistress of Bobby Petrino on paid leave Friday and disclosed that she used a $20,000 “gift” from the disgraced former coach to buy a car in her first week on the job.

University spokesman Steve Voorhies said Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old football department employee, had been placed on leave but declined further comment, calling it a private personnel issue.

Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player, was a Razorback Foundation fundraiser before she was hired as a student-athlete development coordinator by Petrino on March 28 at an annual salary of $55,735. She has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.

The move Friday came shortly after Petrino’s agent said he would not appeal his firing and seek any of the $18 million buyout that was part of his contract. His agent, Russ Campbell, sent an email to athletic director Jeff Long late Thursday saying Petrino had accepted “responsibility for the events that led to the university’s decision to terminate his contract.”

“Coach Petrino and his family wish nothing but the best for both the Razorback football program and University of Arkansas,” Campbell wrote.

Petrino had the option to appeal as part of the seven-year contract he agreed to in December 2010. The contract was for more than $3.5 million annually and carried the $18 million mutual buyout clause in 2011 and 2012. The amount dropped over the life of the contract, falling to as little as $3.9 million in 2017.

Long said that Petrino was fired for cause, meaning the coach was not owed anything.

The 51-year-old Petrino was fired Tuesday for failing to disclose his relationship with Dorrell before she was hired, as required by conflict of interest rules at the school. The affair became public only after the two went for a motorcycle ride April 1 and skidded off the road, putting Petrino in the hospital and resulting in a police report that contained her identity.

Long has said the two were in a relationship for a “significant” amount of time and phone records show they exchanged more than 4,300 text messages and nearly 300 phone calls over the past seven months, possibly including photo and video content.

The termination letter Long sent to Petrino was released by the school Friday and it had more specifics.

“You deliberately failed to tell me that you had engaged in an extramarital affair with Ms. Dorrell over a period of several months leading up to your recommendation to hire her,” Long wrote. “If you had been forthcoming with me about the true nature of your relationship, I would not have approved the hiring.”

Long also said Petrino “admitting giving $20,000 cash to Ms. Dorrell as a ‘gift.’ Dorrell used the money to purchase a black Acura during the first week that she worked for the football program.

“Among other concerns relating to this ‘gift,’ you should have disclosed this fact to me … but you failed to do so,” Long wrote.

The athletic director ripped Petrino for “poor judgment” and said that by lying to his boss and the public he had left the school with the task of “restoring the reputation of our institution and our athletics programs.”

“I recognize that you are a very talented football coach,” Long wrote, “but the university may not disregard your conduct or sacrifice its integrity, reputation and principles.”

As for Dorrell, it is unknown whether she will face the same fate.

In a March 20 letter Long sent to Dorrell offering her the job, he wrote that “you should be aware that you will be held accountable for and must abide by University of Arkansas, Southeastern Conference and NCAA rules and regulations.”

The school, he added, “expects integrity” and Dorrell was asked to comply with “conflict of interest policies” among other things. The letter amounts to an “understanding” that there are “no agreements, whether written or oral, regarding your employment other than those contained in this letter.” The letter was signed by Dorrell.

A person familiar with the situation has told the AP that Dorrell had “at one time” been engaged to another athletic department staffer, assistant strength and conditioning coach Josh Morgan. Voorhies said Morgan is still employed by Arkansas.

DETAILS EMERGE THAT DORRELL WAS VERY UNDERQUALIFIED FOR FOOTBALL JOB: Details emerged Friday that Dorrell was hired over 158 other applicants after a fast-tracked interview process that Long requested at the behest of the now-fired coach, according to a review of university personnel documents by The Associated Press.

Dorrell submitted a single-page resumé expressing her interest in becoming the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator job. She was among three finalists interviewed and was hired by Petrino in late March.

The other two finalists listed specific football experience as required by the job posting, while Dorrell did not, according to the review of more than 500 pages of documents released by the university this week under Freedom of Information Act requests.

The job listing was posted on March 4 and interviews cannot begin for 30 days under an affirmative action policy. Five days later, Long wrote to Danielle Wood, the assistant director of affirmative action at Arkansas, asking for the interview process to begin earlier.

Wood on March 12 asked Carrie DeBriyn, the human resources manager in the Arkansas athletics department, why the variance was needed.

“Coach Petrino would like to request to interview early due to needing a Player Development Coordinator as quickly as possible,” DeBriyn wrote back. “Fantasy Football Camp preparation, Red White Game preparation and all recruiting coordination is falling short due to not having this position filled.”

Wood approved the request 47 minutes later, according to the documents — more than an hour after the itinerary for Dorrell shows her meetings beginning at the football complex with director of football operations Mark Robinson. The meetings began at 9:30 a.m. and ran through at least 1:30 p.m. and then, according to a university flight manifest, Petrino and Dorrell joined three others for a flight to Harlingen, Texas.

The other two finalists for the job — Tiffany Fields and Ben Wilkerson — both listed football experience on their resumés while Dorrell touted her skills in growing donations working for the Razorback Foundation.

The job listing’s minimum qualifications include two years of “prior experience within a football program.” Dorrell is a former Razorbacks volleyball player, while Fields is an Arkansas recruiting assistant who noted that she has handled football camps and communicated with football recruits. She listed Petrino among her references.

Wilkerson is a former NFL player — he noted that he played under Petrino during his 13-game stint with the Atlanta Falcons — and was a four-year starter at LSU. Now an assistant at Grambling State, he told SI.com: “Of course I interviewed for the position, but I’d rather not discuss it because of the whole thing … I’m starting a new job now and that’s my focal point.”

Wilkerson was brought in from Baton Rouge, La., for interviews on March 13 while Fields interviewed for little more than an hour on March 15.

Four days later, Long requested another variance, this time to hire a candidate immediately, and included a letter from Petrino.

“I would like to offer to this candidate,” Petrino wrote. “Out of the candidates, she had the best experience and we felt like she would be the best fit for this position.”

The request was approved the next day.