John Diamond, the associate vice chancellor for university relations at the University of Arkansas, was in Little Rock Friday and gave a presentation to the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, entitled “A Hog Tail on the Pig Trail: Jeff, Bobby, Harley and Me.”
In his talk to the group, Diamond discussed the communications and public relations situation of the now-infamous motorcycle wreck of disgraced former head Razorback football coach, Bobby Petrino.
Diamond told jokes, including that in the love triangle the pieces were Petrino, Jessica Dorrell, Petrino’s mistress/employee, and the Harley Davidson motorcycle the two were riding before the wreck.
Diamond reports that Dorrell sustained injuries during the wreck, but didn’t seek medical attention and told her co-workers the Monday after the Sunday accident that she had fallen down stairs. He also explained that most of the communication between the University of Arkansas and Petrino came from Petrino’s agents.
Petrino reportedly checked himself out of the hospital to attend the press conference in which he answered questions from the media, including answering “yeah,” when asked if he was the only person on the motorcycle at the time of the wreck.
Diamond said Petrino was given a copy of the police report in advance before alerting Jeff Long, the University of Arkansas athletic director and Petrino’s boss at the time, that the details in the report were different from the story he had shared earlier.
Long considered many factors before deciding to dismiss Petrino, Diamond said, including Petrino supporters, the actions of Petrino and the reaction toward other universities that appeared to offer special treatment for coaches.
Diamond said there was much time spent considering how the public would react to firing the coach. He said they did not want this firing to be considered a traditional firing of the coach, but instead that Petrino could not stay at the university and should go.
Petrino reportedly went from cooperative to “making it clear he’s Bobby Petrino,” Diamond said.
The news began to leak that Petrino was going to be fired, Diamond said, because the coach began telling people “something was going to happen.”
Diamond was asked if Long had to make the decision to fire Petrino by rule or law. He said it appears that way now, but at the time there was no precedent in college athletics for what had happened or exactly how it was to be handled.
One of the questions from the audience centered on if any members of the UA board of trustees had been consulted before the decision was made to fire Petrino. Diamond said the issue was not discussed with trustees because they could have been involved in any appeal of the firing.
Looking forward, Diamond said last football season, in golf terms, was a mulligan, and that most fans are excited about new head coach Bret Bielema.