University of Arizona fires football coach after inconclusive investigation into sexual harassment claim

Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez is out
(Image credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, the University of Arizona fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez, effective immediately, saying an investigation launched in October into sexual harassment claims by a former athletic department employee had turned up other information that caused the university "to be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program." Rodriguez, 54, was in the sixth year of a contract scheduled to last until May 2020, and the university said it will "honor the separation terms of his contract," which include a $6.3 million buyout, USA Today reports.

The outside investigation, conducted by a law firm, had been unable to substantiate the harassment claims, in part because the accuser had declined to cooperate or "turn over communications that she alleged provided support for her allegations," the university said in a letter. Instead, she had threatened a potentially embarrassing lawsuit and filed a notice of financial claim with the state attorney general. In a separate statement, Rodriguez denied the harassment claims from the woman, whom he identified as his former administrative assistant, but said the investigation had uncovered "a consensual extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the university."

Arizona's 7-6 record this past season was an improvement over 2016's 3-9 flop, but Rodriguez was considered to be on thin ice before October's complaint and investigation.

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