The Arizona Wildcats fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday, citing “the direction and climate of the football program” as the reasoning.
Arizona will pay Rodriguez his full $6.3 million buyout and will hire a search firm as it looks for its new head coach.
Rodriguez went 43-35 in six seasons in Tucson, but was also recently alleged of sexual harassment by a former administrative assistant. An investigation by the UA found the claims to unsubstantiated based on evidence and witnesses, but Arizona still felt the need to make a change anyway.
“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,” UA athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement.
“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.”
Rodriguez released a statement Tuesday night following his firing. He shed more details on his dismissal, disputed the sexual harassment claims, and admitted to having an extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the University.
Here is his statement in its entirety:
I was deeply disappointed to learn by email this evening that the University of Arizona is buying out my contract. My coaching staff and I were very excited about the trajectory of our young team, and looked forward to 2018 and beyond
This action comes on the heels of an outside investigation by the University into alleged workplace misconduct. This investigation concerned a complaint by my former administrative assistant, who threatened a $7.5 million lawsuit alleging harassment.
The University initiated a thorough outside investigation. I fully cooperated with the investigation, including a voluntarily taking and passing a polygraph. The University determined that there was no truth to her accusations and found me innocent of any wrongdoing.
This was a thorough investigation that last over 10 weeks and included multiple members of my current and former staff. Notably, the complainant refused to cooperate with the investigation. It was comforting to be reassured of what I already knew, the claims were baseless and false.
Regrettably, the complaint included a single truth — in the past, I had a consensual extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the University. It was wrong and I have apologized to my wife and family. I am still working incredibly hard to repair the bonds I’ve broken and regain the trust of my wife and children, whom I love dearly.
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.
I am saddened that these accusations and investigation have caused my family additional stress. To my players, staff, and supporters, it’s been an honor to lead you and serve you.
As I’m sure that they would expect me to do, I will vigorously fight these fabricated claims.
Our full story on Rodriguez’s firing can be found here.