Just a short time after it was reported former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez could be ousted at Arizona for alleged misconduct, the university announced his firing Tuesday night.
Arizona has fired football coach Rich Rodriguez pic.twitter.com/VTpdr1LDuC
— Michael Lev (@MichaelJLev) January 3, 2018
In a release, the Arizona Athletics Department said the university has parted ways with Rodriguez and Athletics Director Dave Heeke was quoted.
“After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, President 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,” Heeke said.
Heeke then added: “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.”
“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.”
He later clarified, saying it was an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against a former employee in the Department of Athletics.
Arizona confirms my report that it hired outside counsel to “investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Rodriguez against a former employee in the Department of Athletics."
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) January 3, 2018
Wolken said the school hired an outside law firm to look into potential workplace misconduct that could lead to a lawsuit against the 54-year-old coach.
Rodriguez just wrapped up his sixth season at Arizona. Before coaching in the Pac-12, Rodriguez was Michigan’s head coach for three seasons between 2008 and 2010.
College football reporter Brett McMurphy added that the decision was made before the Foster Farms Bowl loss to Purdue.
Source: Decision to fire Rich Rodriguez was made before bowl. Even a win in bowl wouldn’t have saved Rodriguez’s job
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) January 3, 2018
After the athletic department sent a release, Arizona president Robert C. Robbins, along with Heeke, sent a message to the Arizona community clarifying the situation.
In the letter, they said the university retained a law firm, which in October began an investigation into allegations made by a former employee.
The former employee retained her own counsel and did not participate in the investigation or turn over communications that would support her allegations.
“The investigation, which concluded on December 28, 2017, found that the original specific harassment allegations against Mr. Rodriguez could not be substantiated based on the evidence and witnesses available to it,” the letter said.
It then went on:
“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. As a result, we have been reviewing the findings 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.”
The letter then wrapped up saying there are tremendous men and employees in the program who will continue to work hard at Arizona, and they are confident they will find a new leader to take them to great heights on and off the field.
Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports then elaborated more, saying Rodriguez was fired without cause and strictly due to football reasons.
Rich Rodriguez was fired at #Arizona without cause. I'm told by a source at U of A this move was strictly for football reasons and due to the direction of the program.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 3, 2018