Thursday, April 5, 2012

Petrino had rider in motorcycle crash

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM

NEW DETAILS: Hog coach Bobby Petrino, shown here at a Tuesday news conference, wasnt alone when he wrecked his motorcycle last weekend, a State Police report says.
  • NEW DETAILS: Hog coach Bobby Petrino, shown here at a Tuesday news conference, wasn't alone when he wrecked his motorcycle last weekend, a State Police report says.

The State Police this afternoon released its report on Razorback football coach Bobby Petrino's motorcycle wreck.

WITH PETRINO ON RIDE: Jessica Dorrell
  • WITH PETRINO ON RIDE: Jessica Dorrell
The report reveals that Petrino had a rider on the back of his Harley-Davidson when he left the highway near Crosses on a Sunday evening drive on Highway 16 — Jessica Dorrell, 25, of Elkins. She's a former Razorback volleyball player who was named the first Razorback female athletic fund-raiser when she became an assistant director of the Razorback Foundation in May 2011, according to the UA website. Last month, she went to work directly for Petrino, when she was named the student-athlete coordinator for the football team. She's also earned an MBA. It apparently was she who flagged down a motorist to get assistance for the injured Petrino. She was not hurt in the wreck and said she didn't know what had caused it. The report quotes Petrino as saying because of sun and wind he was unable to maneuver the bike and drove off the road. He said he tried to lay the bike down and "the next thing I know I was lying in a wood pile."

Here's the report.

Here's a recording of Petrino's remarks at a news conference Tuesday about the accident. He makes no mention of a companion, though he was asked about it. When asked if anyone was with him at the site and how he got help, he responded:

When I came out of a ditch, there was a lady there that had flagged down a car. And the guy that was in the passenger seat said get in we’ll just take you right to the hospital.

The State Police report said passing motorists picked up Petrino and Dorrell for a ride to the hospital, but "upon arival at the intersection of East Huntsville Road and Crossover Road in Fayetteville, Passenger Dorrell departed in her personel [sic] vehicle." At that spot, they met State Police Capt. Lance King, who took Petrino to a Fayetteville hospital.

I've asked Kevin Trainor, spokesman for the athletic department, about the employee riding with the coach.

The UA has some further questions to answer. Its statement Sunday after the wreck, which left Petrino with four cracked ribs:

Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals. He is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Our family appreciates respect for our privacy during the recovery and we are grateful for the thoughts of Razorback fans at this time.

Jeff Long, director of athletics and vice chancellor, said he has been in touch with the Petrinos and added that he will consult with the family to provide additional information at a later time. Until then, there will be no further information or comment on the accident per the Petrinos' request.

No other individuals? When did the UA, if ever, learn its statement was incorrect and why wasn't it corrected?

Petrino, in the press conference Tuesday, said his wife had been working him hard Sunday before he went out on the ride.

For the record, this is the general outline of Petrino's $4 million-a-year employment contract. It says that he may be terminated for "...engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of Head Football Coach or adversely affects the reputation of the University or UAF's Athletic Program in any way."

You may now invoke the time-honored maxim about crimes and coverups.

Petrino said this when Dorrell was tapped for a job with the football team:

“Jessica Dorrell will be a great addition to our football program. As a former student-athlete she has an enthusiasm for the Razorbacks and is familiar with what the University of Arkansas can offer. She is extremely organized and has a professional approach, which should translate well into our program and recruiting as we continue to place an emphasis on this area.”

Here's the sad thing: If this is a case of two co-workers enjoying a harmless recreational outing, the handling of the episode did everything to contribute to an untoward impression. And, for the record, Dorrell is planning a June wedding to Josh Morgan, an assistant Razorback strength coach. (The link about the wedding is now disabled.) . Pending marriage also noted here by the UA. And, if you'd like to send a gift, here's the registry.

The UA media relations department is mute so far. KFSM reached Dorrell and she said she had no comment at the moment.

My questions to the athletic department:

What's Jessica Dorrell's pay and tenure at UA?

What is the nature of her relationship with Petrino?

When did the UA find out Petrino was not alone in the accident, contrary to its statement Sunday?

Why didn't the UA correct the statement?

Does Athletic Director Jeff Long think Petrino has been truthful with the public in responding to questions about the accident?

Does Jeff Long think the UA has been truthful in responding to questions about the accident?

Will the UA look further into the relationship between Petrino and a subordinate?

Has anything occurred here that merits further review by the administration relative to Petrino's handling of his contractual duties as football coach, particularly his obligation to uphold the "character and responsibilities" of the person in his position and not do anything damaging to the UA or the Athletic program?

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