Saturday, 14 April 2012

Special Investigative Report: How Bobby Petrino Gamed the System

I team up with David Epstein for an investigative story on Bobby Petrino getting a job for his mistress at the University of Arkansas. We used the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and some old fashioned digging to uncover pretty incredible revelations.We obtained and then reviewed the resumes of every single person who applied for the football player development position that went to Jessica Dorrell.  We also went through dozens of emails and handwritten notes, and spoke by phone with a number of people connected to the story.  Hope you have a chance to read our report.

Here's an excerpt:

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Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino tried to sidestep University of Arkansas guidelines to quickly hire his mistress, Jessica Dorrell, as the team's player development coordinator, according to documents obtained by The documents show that Petrino sought a waiver to circumvent a university affirmative action policy requiring that the job be posted for at least 30 days before interviews could commence. Dorrell's first interview was scheduled even before the waiver was granted by the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.

According to the documents, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, the job listing for a player development coordinator to serve the football program was posted on March 4. Five days later, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long pushed along a request from Petrino and sent a memo to Danielle Wood, the school's assistant director of affirmative action, asking if interviews for the position could begin even though the job had been listed for just five days, not the required 30. "We feel that flexibility is needed," Long wrote.

Records show that on March 12, Carrie DeBriyn, the human resources manager for Arkansas athletics, e-mailed the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance to ask that the hiring process be expedited at Petrino's behest. The e-mail said, "Coach Petrino would like to request to interview early due to needing a Player Development Coordinator as quickly as possible." Without filling the position quickly, DeBriyn wrote, "we could potentially make a recruiting error with NCAA rules and regulations." At 10:44 a.m. that same day, approval was granted to interview candidates. According to records, however, Dorrell's interviews had already been scheduled and were set to begin at 9:30 that same morning.

Dr. Fritz Polite, sports management professor at Tennessee and director of the Institute for Leadership, Ethics & Diversity, said that Arkansas's haste in brushing aside affirmative action hiring procedures shows that "the power lies with the coach to sidestep rules ... simply because he's winning."

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To read the rest of the report, click here.  To read Andy Staples's communications with a number of the denied candidates, click here.

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