Arizona fires Rich Rodriguez amid allegations

Former employee alleges hostile workplace

Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rodriguez (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The University of Arizona fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday amid an allegation of workplace misconduct.

Athletic director Dave Heeke made the announcement in a statement released Tuesday night.

"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 in the release.

"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 move came as a notice of claim was filed last Thursday by a former employee accusing Rodriguez, 54, of running a hostile workplace. That claim was revealed Tuesday thanks to a public-records request by the Arizona Daily Star.

A notice of claim is a legal document signaling that a lawsuit will be forthcoming.

The Daily Star reported that the University of Arizona conducted its own investigation into allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee, but did not find enough to fire Rodriguez over the claim. Instead, the school became concerned with the "climate and direction" of the program, according to the report.

Following his firing, Rodriguez issued a statement saying the investigation revolved around a former administrative assistant who threatened a $7.5 million lawsuit alleging harassment. He said he cooperated with the investigation and passed a voluntary polygraph test while noting that his former assistant did not cooperate with the investigation.

Rodriguez also admitted to an extramarital affair with a woman not associated with the university. He said he has apologized to his wife and family and is working to regain their trust.

"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," Rodriguez said. "I am saddened that these accusations and investigation have caused my family additional stress."

Rodriguez led the Wildcats to a 43-35 record over his six seasons with the school, including a 6-2 start to this season that ultimately ended in a 7-6 record on the season. That slide to end the season included a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl.