‘Courageous’ move nets UA $1.25 million; Dorrell resigns

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 128 views 

University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long on Tuesday received a $1.25 million pat on the back for his “courageous leadership” during the recent scandal that resulted in the firing of Head Razorback Football Coach Bobby Petrino.

Petrino was placed on paid administrative leave on April 5 while Long investigated details of an April 1 motorcycle wreck involving Petrino and a female staffer of the athletic department.

Jessica Dorrell, 25, of Elkins, was on a motorcycle with Arkansas football Coach Bobby Petrino when it crashed Sunday, an Arkansas State Police report released Thursday noted.

Petrino said he was alone when he crashed his motorcycle on Highway 16 near the Crosses community in Madison County Sunday evening, but it was eventually learned that he lied to Long and the media about having a passenger. Also, Dorrell’s hiring by Petrino has been called into question.

On April 11, Long fired Petrino, saying the coach’s serious lapse in judgment forced the dismissal.

“Our expectations of character and integrity in our employees can be no less than what we expect from our students,” Long said during the Tuesday night press conference. “No single individual is bigger than the team, the Razorback football program or the University of Arkansas.”

Also on Tuesday, the University of Arkansas announced that Jessica Dorrell resigned immediately as the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator.

Long and Dorrell agreed the resignation was in the best interest of both parties, according to a UA statement.

“While Ms. Dorrell had a legitimate right to apply for and accept a position within the football program, the circumstances surrounding the former coach’s decision to hire her compromised her ability to be effective in such a position,” Long said. “She and I believe she should have the opportunity to move on.”

Dorrell agreed she would not “attempt to sell or profit from her affiliation with Razorback Athletics,” noted the statement. The UA will pay Dorrell approximately $14,000 as part of a settlement and resolution of all matters between the parties.

There are no immediate plans to re-open or advertise the job opportunity. Those duties will be assigned to other staff members for the time being.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and its board chair announced Tuesday (April 17) announced two separate gifts to the University of Arkansas totaling $1.25 million. The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Board of Trustees approved a $1 million gift to help fund the university’s planned Student-Athlete Success Center, a multipurpose academic resource and study center and dining hall for use by the university’s 460 students participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Reynolds Foundation Board Chair Fred Smith made a separate, personal donation of $250,000 to support the Student-Athlete Success Center and to rename the university’s existing student-athlete development program as the Jeff Long Student-Athlete Development Program.

“For more than 57 years, the Reynolds Foundation has identified and financially supported organizations and their leaders whose vision is to make a lasting impact in the lives of others,” Smith said in the statement. “The courageous leadership demonstrated by Jeff Long in the course of recent events has further affirmed our confidence in his leadership and his vision for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Arkansas. Mr. Long acted with integrity and with the best interests of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas in mind.”

Long said he was humbled when learning of the donation.

“When Chancellor Gearhart called to tell me that the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and Fred Smith had made substantial gifts in my name to our university, I was surprised and truly humbled,” Long shared. “I am extremely grateful to the Reynolds Foundation and the Smith family for their continued investment in the lives of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas.”

The Student-Athlete Success Center is one of the proposed facilities outlined in the recently released Razorback Athletic Master Facility Plan. The center will house academic support facilities, including group and individual tutorial rooms, study hall areas, a large auditorium, computer labs, multi-media, career planning, service learning and community service areas.

The center will also include a dining facility that will provide a training table for all 460 student-athletes competing in 19 sports. The facility will also help student-athletes in the efficiency of meeting the many demands of student-athletes by providing a training table located near practice and academic areas.

Conceptual plans present a facility that will range in size from 47,000-58,000 square feet, with the projected cost ranging between $18 million and $23 million. Construction dates are not set, and the project still requires approval from the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.