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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Arizona fires head football coach Rich Rodriguez

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The Arizona football program is officially without a head coach.

The university announced Tuesday night it has fired Rich Rodriguez after six seasons at the helm in Tuscon, Ariz. In its statement about the firing, the school says it hired an investigative team to look into “allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Rodriguez” in Oct. 2017.

Rodriguez is just the latest in a string of high-profile people to be accused sexual harassment, and the situation  is complex.

According to the statement, Rodriguez harassed a former athletic department employee on multiple occasions. The investigation, conducted by a law firm retained by the university, concluded Dec. 28, and found that the original allegations against Rodriguez could not be substantiated “based on the evidence and witnesses available to it.”

The statement says Rodriguez’s accuser declined multiple Arizona requests to participate in the investigation, and that she was “unwilling to turn over the communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations.” She also threatened to file a lawsuit against him and “recently filed a notice of financial claim the the state Attorney General’s Office,” according to a USA Today story by Dan Wolken.

While the accusations could not be proven by the investigative team, more information has come out since the investigation concluded last week, resulting in the Arizona athletic department’s decision to terminate Rodriguez’s employment.

The new information was bad enough that the athletic department became “concerned with the direction and climate of the football program.”

Under the conditions of his contract, which ran through May 31, 2020, Rodriguez will be owed a $6.3 million buyout since the University fired him without cause, Wolken writes.

On the field, Rodriguez, 54, was 43-35 as the head coach of the Wildcats. His job security was already tenuous heading into next season. Arizona went 3-9 in 2016, and lost four of its last five games in 2017, including a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl, to end 7-6.

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