Late Tuesday evening on January 2nd, 2017, the University of Arizona posted a notice revealing that University of Arizona Wildcats head coach, Rich Rodriquez, would be fired over claims of sexual harassment. News of Rodriquez’s firing first came from a notice of claim posted on The Arizona Daily Star claiming that Rodriquez was running a hostile workplace.
Rich Rodriquez was also investigated by the University of Arizona back in October over sexual harassment allegations but the school felt the evidence provided was unsubstantiated and dropped the case. Now, with the notice of claim being filed (which signifies an impending lawsuit) the University has dropped the top-ranked coach in a quick manner.
University of Arizona President Robert Robbins and athletic director David Heeke released a statement late Tuesday evening stating:
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. 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 lawsuit in question comes from Rodriquez’s former assistant who is suing the former coach for $7.5 million on claims that he sexually harassed her and created a workplace that made her fear coming into work. According to the notice of claim acquired by ESPN, the woman who is suing is claiming that Rodriquez kept trying to keep his affair with her quiet, that he would grope and kiss her, and an allegation stating that players on the Wildcats team would send her pictures of their genitalia to which Rodriquez completely ignored when she tried to get him to intervene.
After news broke of Rich Rodriquez’s firing, he released a public statement to his personal Twitter account in order to help clear his name. According to his statement, “The University initiated a thorough outside investigation. I fully cooperated with the investigation, including voluntarily taking and passing a polygraph.” He also ended the post saying that, “I am not a perfect man but the claims [made] by my former assistant are simply not true and her demands for a financial settlement are outrageous.”
The University also seems to have made good on their contractual obligations with Rodriguez after he announced, “that the University of Arizona is buying out my contract.” Rodriquez was contracted with the team until May 31st, 2020 and the University has payed about $5.46 million to separate from the former head coach.
After coaching at Michigan for three seasons, Rodriquez left and joined the University of Arizona Wildcats and helped bring them four straight bowl game wins. This season however the Wildcats seems to be in decline as the team opened the season strong with 6 – 2 but then lost four of their five remaining games including the Holiday Bowl game against Purdue.
Rodriquez was 43 – 39 during his six seasons as head coach of the University of Arizona Wildcats.