The Arizona Wildcats fired football coach Rich Rodriguez after six seasons due to sexual harassment allegations that have been under investigation since October and a recent notice of a hostile-workplace lawsuit to be filed against the university.
“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,” athletic director Dave Heeke said in an official statement.
Arizona’s Office of Institutional Equity retained the law firm of Cohen Dowd Quigley to investigate the allegation, according to Heeke and Robbins.
The allegation was made by the former administrative assistant to Rodriguez.
The former employee hired legal representation and declined numerous requests to participate in the investigation into her allegation was “unwilling to turn over communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations,” the letter indicated.
According to Heeke and Robbins: “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.
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 issued a statement Tuesday night.
“The University initiated a thorough outside investigation. I fully cooperated with the investigation, including voluntarily taking and passing a polygraph,” Rodriguez said. “The University determined that there was no truth to her accusations and found me innocent of any wrongdoing.
“This was a thorough investigation that lasted over 10 weeks and included multiple members of my current and former staff. Notably, the complainant refused to cooperate with the investigation. It was comforting to be reassured of what I already knew, the claims were baseless and false.”
Arizona will hire a search firm to assist with “a national search” to find a new coach.
“We’ll move through the coaching search in an effort to identify a head coach that will build a solid foundation for our program and create an identity of Arizona football that the University, Tucson and Southern Arizona communities can be proud of,” Heeke said in the statement. “We’re excited about the future of our football program and we look forward to introducing our new head coach at the completion of the search process.”
“My coaching staff and I were very excited about the trajectory of our young team, and looked forward to 2018 and beyond,” Rodriguez said in his statement. “… To my players, staff and supporters, it’s been an honor to lead and serve you. As I’m sure that you would expect me to do, I will vigorously fight these fabricated and groundless claims.
“… I am not a perfect man, but the claims by my former assistant are simply not true and her demands for a financial settlement are outrageous. I am saddened that these accusations and investigation have caused my family additional stress.”