Rich Rodriguez Fired as Arizona HC Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez yells from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against California Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Arizona fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday after the Wildcats finished a 7-6 season.

According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, the school made the official announcement regarding Rodriguez's firing Tuesday evening. Brett McMurphy reported "Arizona has fired Rich Rodriguez in part after sexual harassment allegations against him that the school says could not be substantiated."

Wolken previously reported Tuesday that Arizona was "weighing whether to fire" him and noted "the school also has been dealing with a troubling allegation behind the scenes that led school officials last fall to hire an outside law firm to investigate Rodriguez for potential workplace misconduct."

Spencer Hall of SB Nation shared the official statement from Arizona, while Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star highlighted the portion regarding the allegations:

On Wednesday, Dan Wolken of USA Today noted the claim states that the woman and two other employees "referred to themselves as the 'Triangle of Secrecy' because they were asked to lie to cover up Rodriguez's extramarital affair."

Per Wolken, the claim alleges Rodriguez called the woman into his office and "began discussing his marital problems and then grabbed her, 'embraced her, touched the side of her breast, and tried to kiss her.'"

It also states Rodriguez "touched himself inappropriately in front of her. He also made 'incredibly inappropriate comments to her,' the claim said, such as telling her his underwear 'visually enhanced' his genitalia."

The Arizona Daily Star also reported Rodriguez and his "closest aids followed a 'hideaway book' that detailed such sayings as 'Title IX doesn't exist in our office,' referring to the federal gender-equity law."

Rodriguez released a statement in which he admitted to having an extramarital affair but denied claims of harassment:

Rodriguez, 54, went 43-35 in six seasons at Arizona. He previously coached at West Virginia and Michigan.

The Wildcats went 33-20 in Rodriguez's first four seasons, winning three bowl games and emerging as a solid mid-tier program in the Pac-12. But things have fallen off each of the past two years, with Arizona posting a 3-9 record in 2016 before struggling to establish consistency again this season.

"In our competitive situation the way the Pac-12 is going, you've got to—especially at a place like Arizona—you better be a little bit fortunate and really on top of your game in all aspects to have a chance to compete," Rodriguez said in March, per Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com.

Arizona entered 2017 facing a bit of an uphill battle because of its youth-laden roster. The defense, in particular, had as many as six freshmen competing for significant playing time during training camp.

The Wildcats started 6-2 and appeared to be heading in the right direction, but the defense struggled in losses to USC, Oregon and Arizona State down the stretch, allowing more than 40 points in all three games. The defense also struggled in a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl.

There is some optimism moving forward for the program, considering quarterback Khalil Tate was only a sophomore in 2017 and thrived with 1,591 passing yards, 1,411 rushing yards and 26 total touchdowns, but he and the rest of the team will be led by a new coach in 2018.

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