by Chris Bahn
Posted 4/11/2012 07:46 pm
Updated 7 months ago
Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and Jessica Dorrell exchanged more than 4,000 phone calls, text and multimedia messages between September and April 5, including on game days during the 2011 football season.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request provided more detail of the inappropriate relationship between the two that ultimately led to Petrino’s firing. Athletic Director Jeff Long said Petrino and Dorrell, hired into the football office on March 28, were together a “significant” amount of time, something the records confirm. Dating from Sept. 12 to April 5 they swapped 4,357 texts and 307 calls.
Petrino and Dorrell were involved in a motorcycle crash on April 1, but the former Razorback coach did not disclose that anyone else was with him until four days after the fact. Petrino and Dorrell spoke 10 times on April 5, the day the accident report was released with her name, including a call at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Arkansas State Police made the crash report public at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Records lend credibility to Long’s revelation that he did not hear from Petrino about Dorrell’s role in the accident until approximately 20 minutes before the report was made public. Petrino called long on April 5 at 3:11 p.m.
Besides shedding additional light on the timeline of the accident, the records show that Petrino and Dorrell were frequently exchanging calls and messages. Some days the pair shared more than 100 text messages. Contact typically dropped off on game days, but was heavy before and after the Razorbacks played.
On the day of the Razorbacks’ 38-28 victory against Troy on Sept. 17, the two swapped 70 text messages. Arkansas lost 38-14 at Alabama and there were seven texts on Sept. 24, but 100 the night before.
In the four days leading up to the meeting with the Crimson Tide — a game that had implications on the national championship race — Dorrell and Petrino spoke at 5:52 a.m., 6:35 a.m., 5:49 a.m. and 7:55 a.m.
On a day the Razorbacks traveled to Nashville and were preparing for their game against Vanderbilt at the team hotel, the pair swapped 84 text messages over five hours.
Contact dipped at times over the final half of the season as the Razorbacks made a late push to get back into the national championship conversation. Petrino and Dorrell remained in contact, but days with triple-digit texts were uncommon. They did exchange 55 messages the day before the Razorbacks' 41-17 loss at LSU, a game that put the team out of contention for the BCS title.
While the two did exchange messages the week of the Cotton Bowl there were no texts or calls before or after the 29-16 victory against Kansas State. With that victory the Razorbacks finished in the Top 5.
Communication continued throughout the spring and in the days leading up to Dorrell’s hiring as member of Petrino’s football staff. Petrino spoke with his newest hire twice on March 28, the day she was introduced as the student athlete development coordinator for football.
An internal review of the relationship revealed 158 other applicants for the position. Only three candidates were interviewed before Dorrell, who also received a $20,000 gift from Petrino, was hired.
Long said that Petrino engaged in a pattern of “manipulative and misleading behavior” in hiring Dorrell and covering up her involvement in the crash.
“Coach Petrino knowingly misled the athletics department and the university about the circumstances related to his accident,” Long said. “He had multiple opportunities over a four-day period to be forthcoming with me. He chose not to.”
Long told ESPN on Wednesday his review of Dorrell is underway.