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UA fires Rodriguez amid sexual harassment allegations

The University of Arizona fired football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday, Jan. 2. (Source: Tucson News Now) The University of Arizona fired football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday, Jan. 2. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The University of Arizona fired football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday, Jan. 2, a week after a notice of claim was filed with the state attorney general's office alleging he ran a hostile workplace.

According to the Associated Press, the claim was filed last Thursday by a former employee. A notice of claim is a legal document that signals a lawsuit will be filed.

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Rodriguez quickly fought back against the allegations made by his former administrative assistant, who has allegedly threatened a $7.5 million lawsuit.

"The University initiated a thorough outside investigation," Rodriguez said in a statement made on Twitter. "I full cooperated with the investigation, including voluntarily taking and passing a polygraph. The University determined that there was no truth to her accusations and found me innocent of any wrongdoing."

Rodriguez did admit to having an affair, but he said the woman was not affiliated with the university.

"I had a consensual extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the University," he said. "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.

In October, the University's Office of Institutional Equity retained outside counsel to investigate allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee.

That investigation, which concluded last week, did not find enough to fire Rodriguez, but the university said it became concerned with the "climate and direction" of the program.

Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke announced Rodriguez's firing in a statement issued by the school and said the separation terms of his contract will be honored.

According to ESPN, the payout will be more than $7 million. Rodriguez's contract can be viewed HERE.

"After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, President (Robert) 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," Heeke said.

Heeke said the school will hire a search firm as it conducts a national search for its next coach.

Rodriguez arrived in Tucson after an ugly split with Michigan, where he coached for three seasons. He had an immediate impact on the Wildcats, leading them to four straight bowl games.

Arizona took a step back last season, losing eight straight games while finishing 3-9. The Wildcats were one of college football's more surprising teams this season after opening 6-2. They fell flat after that, losing four of their final five, including a 38-35 setback against Purdue in the Holiday Bowl.

Rodriguez was 43-39 in six seasons at Arizona.

In August, Creative Artists Agency, which represented him until 2015, sued Rodriguez on claims he owed it more than $230,000 in past-due fees.

Statement from the University of Arizona

Letter to Arizona Campus Community by Tucson News Now on Scribd

ABOR Chair Bill Ridenour Regarding Coach Rodriquez Termination Jan 3 2018 325 Pm by Tucson News Now on Scribd

Statement from Rich Rodriguez

"I was deeply disappointed to learn by email this evening that the University of Arizona is buying out my contact. 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 full cooperated with the investigation, including 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 lasted 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 and serve you. As I'm sure that they would expect to me to do, I will vigorously fight these fabricated and groundless claims."

STATEMENT FROM THE ARIZONA BOARD OF REGENTS:

ABOR Chair Bill Ridenour Regarding Coach Rodriquez Termination Jan 3 2018 325 Pm by Tucson News Now on Scribd

WANT MORE? Download the Tucson News Now app for Apple and Android devices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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