Arizona fires Rodriguez, citing 'direction and climate' of program

Jan 3, 2018 - 3:58 AM University of Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez has been fired by the school, athletic director Dave Heeke announced on Tuesday night.

Coming off a 3-9 season in 2016, Rodriguez seemed to bounce back before the Wildcats lost four of their final five games this season, including their final three, to finish 7-6 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12.

USA Today reported that on top of the disappointing finish to the season, the school has been dealing with an allegation of workplace misconduct.

"After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, President 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 in a release.

"We'll move through the coaching search in an effort to identify a head coach that will build a solid foundation for our program and create an identity of Arizona football that the University, Tucson and Southern Arizona communities can be proud of. We're excited about the future of our football program and we look forward to introducing our new head coach at the completion of the search process."

USA Today's report stated that a former administrative assistant has threatened to file a lawsuit against Rodriguez and is expected to do so in the near future.

The school hired an outside law firm in the fall to investigate the allegation, which Rodriguez cooperated with completely, according to the school.

Heeke and school president Robert C. Robbins released a joint letter addressed to students, faculty and staff. They wrote:

"The investigation, which concluded on December 28, 2017, found that the original specific harassment allegations against Mr. Rodriguez could not be substantiated based on the evidence and witnesses available to it. However, Arizona Athletics did become aware of information, both before and during the investigation, which caused it to be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program."

The 54-year-old Rodriguez's contract runs through May 31, 2020. His full buyout is $6.3 million, and Heeke said the university will honor that agreement. Rodriguez was 43-35 in six seasons at Arizona.

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