FAYETTEVILLE — Hiring Bobby Petrino as the new offensive coordinator for the Arkansas football program was not as simple as signing on the dotted line.
Because of how his first tenure in Fayetteville ended, the Razorbacks had to take extra steps to bring the 62-year-old former head coach back into the fold.
Petrino, as many fans remember, was fired with cause in 2012 after a motorcycle accident not only revealed an extramarital affair, but that he had hired his mistress to a position on his staff. Making matters worse, he then lied about the nature of the improper relationship to then-AD Jeff Long.
About a year later, UA Board Policy 405.6 was passed to prohibit employees fired with cause from being rehired within the UA System. Even though it was adopted in 2013 and revised in 2019, the policy still applied to Petrino. However, it also includes a provision that allows for exceptions upon the approval of UA System President Donald Bobbitt.
That process was initiated Monday when UA Chancellor Charles Robinson sent Bobbitt a letter, a copy of which Best of Arkansas Sports obtained via a Freedom of Information request.
In it, he requested — on behalf of head coach Sam Pittman and athletics director Hunter Yurachek — that they be allowed to hire Petrino as the next offensive coordinator. They had done their “due diligence” by looking into his character at stops since being fired at Arkansas.
According to the letter, they found “he has conducted himself in an appropriate manner and has not engaged in any conduct that has negatively or adversely affected the reputation of any institution or their athletic programs.” They also believe he “has not committed any material violations of NCAA rules, institutional policies, or applicable law.”
Based on the “diligence” shown by Pittman and Yurachek, Bobbitt responded Wednesday with his approval.
The full letters from both Robinson and Bobbitt can be found below.
Letter on Behalf of Arkansas Football
Dear Dr. Bobbitt:
Pursuant to Board of Trustee Policy 405.6, Director of Athletics, Hunter Yurachek, requests on behalf of Razorback Head Football Coach, Sam Pittman, that Coach Pittman be permitted to offer and employ Bobby Petrino for the position of Offensive Coordinator. Hunter and Coach Pittman are familiar with the circumstances surrounding the termination of Coach Petrino’s employment by the University of Arkansas which was warranted at the time.
They have also conducted a due diligence inquiry into Coach Petrino’s character and subsequent employment. Coach Petrino has been employed by three separate institutions since 2012, the time that his employment ended at the University of Arkansas. By all accounts, he has conducted himself in an appropriate manner and has not engaged in any conduct that has negatively or adversely affected the reputation of any institution or their athletic programs. Additionally, to the best of our knowledge he has not committed any material violations of NCAA rules, institutional policies, or applicable law. Based on the information that has been shared with me, I respectfully support the request and refer the matter for your consideration.
Any offer of employment to Coach Petrino would be contingent upon your approval, the Board’s approval of all amounts agreed to in excess of the line-item maximum salary established by legislative appropriation acts, Coach Petrino’s acceptance of the University’s standard terms and conditions and a reduced release payment in the event the Head Coach is terminated.
Dr. Charles Robinson,
Approval of Bobby Petrino’s Hire
Dear Chancellor Robinson:
I have considered your request for an exception to Board of Trustees Policy 405.6 to allow the hiring of Mr. Bobby Petrino as Offensive Coordinator for the University’s football team. I approve the exception and appreciate the diligence Coach Pittman and AD Yurachek used to guide their hiring decision.
Please proceed to engage with Coach Petrino to finalize his re-employment with the University of Arkansas under the terms and contingencies outlined in your letter.
Donald R. Bobbitt
President, University of Arkansas System
Charles E. Scharlau Presidential Leadership Chair
A Contrarian Take on Petrino
While the hire of Bobby Petrino was met with a lot of enthusiasm by Arkansas football fans, it wasn’t universal. There are some unwilling to look past the embarrassment he caused the school and program, and who see issues especially with how things ended in his second stint at Louisville.
For such a contrarian take, check out this column by our own Nate Olson, who argued against the conclusion drawn by Hunter Yurachek and Sam Pittman about Petrino not “negatively or adversely” impacting any of the schools he’s worked at since being fired by the Razorbacks in 2012:
More coverage of Arkansas football and Bobby Petrino from BoAS…