College Coaching Comebacks Petrino and Pearl Get Second Chances: The Moral(s) of the Story


Bobby Petrino seems to turn every team that he coaches into a winner – and a cash cow. After Petrino took over the Louisville Cardinals in 2003, he increased the team’s revenue from $10 million to $19 million in just three years. In his next college position, Petrino made the University of Arkansas Razorbacks the eighthmost valuable football program in the country, worth $89 million in 2011. This past January, when Petrino, with an 83-30 record in his college coaching career, was available, the Cardinals wanted him back. During an early 2014 press conference, Athletic Director Tom Jurich announced that Petrino would finish his career at Louisville and would receive a total of $24.5 million dollars over the next seven years, with several options for bonuses and other performance rewards.

Now, for the backstory. In 2012, while serving as head coach for the University of Arkansas football team, Petrino reportedly engaged in an extra-marital affair with a 25-year-old former volleyball player. A very publically-reported motorcycle accident revealed the relationship – and the fact that Petrino reportedly had hired his mistress, over 158 other applicants, to be a student athletic development coordinator, a university employee who directly reported to Petrino. After news of the affair and Petrino’s favoritism broke, the University of Arkansas terminated him for cause – in order to cover up his affair.

Originally published in Sports Litigation Alert, Volume 11, Issue 9 on May 16, 2014.

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