Rich Rodriquez fired after internal investigation
After sexual harassment claims were filed by a former administrative assistant, the UA terminated the highest-paid employee on campus following a "thorough evaluation ... both on and off the field."
On Jan. 2, University of Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez was terminated from his position. The decision, according to a statement released by the UA, was based on several factors “including the direction and climate of our football program.”
However, the decision to fire Rodriguez was preceded by the filing of a Notice of Claim. A former administrative assistant in the athletic department filed the claim with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office on Dec. 28, 2017.
The notice, filed by Phoenix-based attorney Augustine “Augie” Jimenez III, accuses Rodriguez of “sexual harassment of (the claimant), as well as the hostile work environment created and fostered by Rodriguez.”
Specifically, the claim against Rodriguez notes several alleged instances and events, taking place over a period of nearly four years, from 2013 until August 2017. Among them:
Rodriguez kept what his accuser called a “hideaway book,” the purpose of which was to hide personal secrets, disseminate messages such as “Title IX doesn’t exist in our office” and help Rodriguez assert control over the coaching staff.
The claim states that the accuser, along with former assistant coach Charlie Ragle and current assistant coach Miguel Reveles would help shield Rodriguez from his family finding out about his alleged affairs. The trio supposedly went by the moniker “the Triangle of Secrecy.”
After marrying in 2015, instead of working on her marriage, the claimant “had to answer Rodriguez’s calls at all hours of the night just to change travel plans or make some other requests which were only emergencies to him,” according to the claim.
During this same time, the claimants husband recalls players from the football team sent pictures of their genitals to his wife. When she complained to Rodriguez, he allegedly ignored her.
Sometime between Jan. 27 and Feb. 23, 2016, the claimant said she caught Rodriguez “ogling” her as she left her office, to which she allegedly replied to him “No, you can’t do that … that’s not cool.”
Soon after, she reportedly informed Rodriguez of her husband’s pending interview with Arizona Diamondbacks security. If he were hired, she would need to move to Phoenix.
Upon learning this, Rodriguez became incensed, allegedly telling her “No, I can’t lose you” and offering to have a friend pay for an apartment for her to stay at.
Later in 2016, Rodriguez allegedly asked the vclaimant to bring a pair of underwear to his office. Finding the request degrading, she enlisted the help of a male staffer, who brought the underwear to Rodriguez.
After receiving the underwear, Rodriguez continued his harrasing behavior, allegedly telling her he preferred underwear that “visually enhanced” his genitalia when worn.
In January 2017, Rodriguez called the claimant into his office. He informed her that he had entered marriage counseling with his wife. He began to indicate that he needed to be with a woman who was “passionate,” which the claimant understood to mean her.
Then, according to the claim, Rodriguez “grabbed (the victim), embraced her, touched the side of her breast and tried to kiss her.” She was able to break free.
Two weeks later, Rodriguez again summoned the victim to his office. This time, he attempted to “take care of her” by giving her $300. She refused the money as Rodriguez begged her not to tell her husband or his wife about the interaction.
The claim sites this incident as being the breaking point, after which she began to look for a way out. Since her daughter was also an employee of the athletic department at the time and received reduced tuition, the claimant decided to stay in her position, according to the claim.
In March 2017, the claimant reportedly asked to transfer departments and scheduled a meeting with Mike Ketcham, the senior associate athletics director. That meeting, according to the claim, as well as subsequent meetings, were canceled at the behest of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez and his adult children have all denied the allegations and sequence of events depicted in the Notice of Claim. In a statement posted to Twitter on Jan. 2, Rodriguez called the charges “baseless and false.”
In the same statement, Rodriguez admitted to carrying on an extramarital affair. “It was wrong, and I have apologized to my wife and family,” he said. “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.”
Rodriguez’s Twitter account has been deactivated. Rodriguez has since hired Phoenix-based defense attorney Leo Beus.
UA President Dr. Robert Robbins and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke issued a joint statement to the university community and media the evening on Jan. 2. It detailed an internal investigation instigated by the UA’s Office of Institutional Equity and led by the law firm Cohen Dowd Quigley.
According to the UA statement, the investigation, which began in October 2017, was due to a “former employee in the Department of Athletics [alleging] that Mr. Rodriguez harassed her on multiple occasions.”
Citing the fact the employee retained an attorney during the process, the UA statement said the employee’s claims “could not be substantiated based on the evidence and witnesses available to it.”
In a press release on Jan. 5, Jimenez addressed the UA’s internal investigation and his client’s lack of participation. Calling the investigation “incomplete,” he added that his client was under no obligation to participate.
“The purpose of this investigation was not to protect (the claimant) from further harassment by Rodriguez,” Jimenez said. “Instead, it was conducted to protect the university from the anticipated harassment claims and perhaps provide a basis to terminate Rodriguez with cause.”
Still, the UA investigation uncovered information that caused concern about the direction of the football program under Rodriguez. In the university statement, Robbins and Heeke invoked the mission of the university:
“While this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision. And it is a decision that lives up to the core values of the University of Arizona.”
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