By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Arizona Wildcats have fired head coach Rich Rodriguez. He was let go after a sexual harassment investigation, according to ESPN.com.
Athletic Director Dave Heeke said a national search will begin immediately. They will “utilize a search firm to assist with the process.”
The Wildcats will also pay Rodriguez a buyout.
“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,” Heeke said. “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.”
The school also sent out a letter to its students, faculty and staff on Tuesday night. In the letter, it says, “the decision is based on several factors, including the direction and climate of our football program.”
The letter said in October 2017, the school had to obtain counsel to represent them to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Rodriguez. A former employee, who worked in the Department of Athletics, alleged that he harassed her “on multiple occasions.”
They said Rodriguez was entitled to a fair investigation and due process. They also said they believed he did not “pose any danger to a member of the community.”
Cohen Dowd Quigley Law Firm was retained by the school to conduct the investigation after the allegations from the former employee. Following the initial report in October, she also retained counsel; however, she declined multiple requests to participate in the investigation.
She was even unwilling to turn over any and all communication she may have had to support her claims. She recently “filed a notice of a financial claim against Mr. Rodriguez,” the letter said.
The investigation by the law firm was concluded on December 28th, 2017. They found the original specific harassment allegations against Rodriguez could not be substantiated based on the evidence and witnesses available to it, the letter said.
Despite those findings, the school found, through the investigation, information, according to the letter, that made it question the climate of the program.
The findings made the Wildcats terminate Rodriguez’s contract. They also said the decision “lives up to the core values of the University of Arizona.”
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