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Rich Rodriguez fired as University of Arizona head football coach

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)

After leading the Wildcats for six seasons, University of Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez has been fired.

University of Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke and President Robert Robbins announced that Rodriguez had been fired Tuesday night, saying in a statement that an investigation into harassment allegations against the coach had been conducted.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office confirmed a $7.5 million notice of claim had been filed against Rodriguez. Such a notice is in advance of a lawsuit.

According to the university’s release, a former employee of the Department of Athletics alleged that Rodriguez had harassed her “on multiple occasions.”

“Like all University employees, Mr. Rodriguez is entitled to a fair investigation and due process and at no time has the university believed that Mr. Rodriguez posed any danger to a member of the community,” the release said.

The university sought the law firm of Cohen Down Quigley to conduct the investigation into the allegations, which began in October. According to Heeke, the former employee declined to participate in the investigation after multiple requests were made by the university.

“In addition, she was unwilling to turn over communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations and recently filed a notice financial claim against Mr. Rodriguez,” the release said.

Because of this, the university was unable to confirm that the harassment allegations occurred. However, during the investigation the athletic department said they became aware of information that “caused it to be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program.”

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. 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.

Information on what the athletic department found was not released.

Shortly after he was fired by the University of Arizona, Rodriguez again confirmed that an investigation had occurred, saying that he had cooperated with the investigation and had even voluntarily taken a polygraph test.

Rodriguez said in his statement that the investigation had lasted over 10 weeks and included members of both his current and former staff. He said that he was “reassured” once the investigation concluded and found him in no wrong doing.

But, Rodriguez did admit to an extramarital affair with someone who was not affiliated with the university.

Regrettably, the complaint included a single truth – in the past, I had a consensual extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the university. It was wrong, and I have apologized to my wife and family. I am still working incredibly hard to repair bonds I’ve broken and regain the trust of my wife and children, whom I love dearly.

I am not a perfect man, but the claims by my former assistant are simply not true and her demands for a financial settlement are outrageous. I am saddened that these accusations and investigation have caused my family additional stress.

Rodriguez was still under contract with Arizona until 2020, but said that the university had elected to buy out the rest of his contract upon firing him.

This season the Wildcats finished with a 7-6 record after starting 6-2. Arizona lost four of their last five games including a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl.

Rodriguez, 54, took over the program in 2012 and has led the Wildcats to five bowl appearances including the New Mexico Bowl (2012, 2015), AdvoCare V100 Bowl (2013), Fiesta Bowl (2014) and the Foster Farms Bowl (2017).

Overall, Rodriguez led the University of Arizona program to a 43-35 record during his time in Tucson.

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