Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino didn't want 911 call made after motorcycle accident

Published: Friday, April 6 2012 10:39 p.m. MDT

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino speaks during a news conference earlier this week after a motorcycle accident.

Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Moments after their motorcycle accident, Bobby Petrino and a female employee told a passer-by not to call 911, then got a ride back to Fayetteville where the Arkansas football coach was met by a state trooper who provides his personal security during the season.

New details of the immediate aftermath of Petrino's crash were in a 911 call released Friday by the state police. The passer-by, Larry Hendren, describes coming upon the accident scene Sunday evening just after Petrino and Jessica Dorrell "were getting up out of the ditch." He said Petrino was "walking, but it looked like his face was bleeding quite a lot."

"The rider and the passenger of the motorcycle declined us to call 911," Hendren told a dispatcher. "They got into a vehicle and headed toward the hospital."

Petrino was taken to a Fayetteville intersection by another passer-by. There, Dorrell left in her own car while Petrino was met by Capt. Lance King, his personal security guard during the season. King took Petrino to a hospital, where he was treated for broken ribs and a cracked neck vertebra.

State police said Friday they planned to question the trooper, looking for "any information Captain King may have learned about the crash" during conversations with Petrino.

"While the inquiries have no direct correlation to the investigation of the motor vehicle crash, the questions are legitimate and worthy of answers," state police spokesman Bill Sadler said. King has been asked to detail "his involvement with coach Petrino and other individuals who've been identified within the crash investigation."

The developments came as Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long considered the future of the football coach, whose salary averages more than $3.5 million.

Long appears to have everything he needs to fire Petrino, but the question now is whether he will actually get rid of the coach, who failed to mention having Dorrell with him during the accident and acknowledged having "a previous inappropriate relationship."

Petrino was not cited by state police, and was described by troopers as cooperative after the accident.

What has him in trouble is his attempt to keep anyone from finding out he was riding with Dorrell, a 25-year-old former Arkansas volleyball player whom he hired just last week. A clause in Petrino's contract gives Long the right to suspend or fire the coach for conduct that "negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university's) athletics programs."

That language gives Long plenty of leeway to punish Petrino, who is on indefinite paid leave after reviving Arkansas' football program over four seasons and, until now, steering clear of off-field blemishes.

"That (contract) is very favorable to the university," said Matt Mitten, director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette. "It gives them a pretty broad range of discretion in determining what negatively affected the university's athletic program or what they think is conduct inconsistent with the head coach."

The accident and attempted cover-up has become the latest scandal to hit major college athletics following shocking child sex abuse allegations against assistant coaches at Penn State and Syracuse last fall. The Penn State case resulted in the firing of revered head football coach Joe Paterno, while head Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim kept his job.

The Razorbacks have become a national contender under Petrino, but next season is an afterthought — at least for now — after the stunning admission by the married father of four.

Long only learned Dorrell was on the motorcycle shortly before state police released the accident report on Thursday. Petrino initially said he was riding alone after a day off with his wife at a lake.

Petrino declined further comment on Friday through his agent, Russ Campbell.

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