Bobby Petrino: Arkansas Coach Has No One But Himself To Blame for Scandal
There is a rule when it comes to public figures: Just don't lie to the media. It will sniff you out. Always. You never win.
After failing to comply with this rule, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino finds himself on paid leave because it turns out that he had a female companion on his motorcycle when he crashed it earlier this week—this, after Petrino had previously told reporters he was alone on the motorcycle.
As soon as the words "lie" and "female companion" accompany the name of a male public figure, it all goes downhill from there. The media will start speculating about scandals, it will start investigating, it will uncover things about you that you never even knew about yourself.
All of this can be avoided with the simple act of telling the truth. Just ask Tiger Woods. Or John Edwards. Or Bill Clinton. Or anyone, really, who's ever been in the public eye.
Petrino now finds himself in the same situation as many of the prominent athletic figures who have come before him. It's not bad enough that he is sporting a big ugly neck brace, a cracked vertebra and many broken ribs after the motorcycle accident. Now, he is answering questions about the passenger he happened to be carrying, a 25-year-old University of Arkansas employee named Jessica Dorrell, whom he happened to have hired just last week as a student-athlete development coordinator.
And not only did Petrino lie to reporters, he also appears to have lied to his boss, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, who has since placed the coach on paid leave.
So how will this end for Petrino? Lying to your boss isn't something that tends to go over well in the world of college sports. As The Wall Street Journal's Jeremy Gordon points out, both Bruce Pearl and Jim Tressel were fired from their collegiate coaching jobs for lying.
This isn't the NFL or the NBA or a league where players are expected to have some grasp on a moral compass by the time they're being paid millions of dollars to compete. This is the NCAA, where a coach—just as much as he's expected to teach the playbook—is expected to teach his players how to behave like morally sound human beings.
When you employ a coach who lies, who evades responsibility, how can you then expect that coach to encourage players to be responsible adults? To go to class? To comply with team's code of conduct, which often means abstaining from the activities that 99 percent of their college peers are engaging in?
And more importantly, how can you expect those student athletes to actually listen to him?
If Petrino had just stuck to the facts, people would still be judging him, but at least he'd be the kind of person who owned up to his mistakes. Now, in addition to being someone who exhibits poor judgment, he's also a liar, and that is what could cost him his job.
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