FAYETTEVILLE, AR (RNN) - Bobby Petrino will not return as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team.
Athletic Director Jeff Long fired Petrino on Tuesday, five days after the coach was put on leave when news broke that he had an inappropriate relationship with a member of his staff.
Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident April 1, but didn't disclose he was with a woman who works for the football program at the time of the crash. Petrino is married and a father of four children.
"Coach Petrino knowingly mislead the athletics department and the university about the circumstances related to his accident. He had multiple opportunities over a four day period to be forthcoming with me. He chose not to," Long said.
Long said Petrino used his influence to make sure the woman, 25, got a job on the football staff without disclosing the nature of their relationship to the university. Long said 159 people applied for the job. Three people were selected as finalists.
"He used athletic department funds to hire a person with whom he had an inappropriate relationship," Long said.
"Coach Petrino's conduct was contrary to the character and responsibilities we demand of our football coach."
Long said there were no discussions about other punishment that might allow Petrino to keep his job.
Petrino came to Arkansas in December 2007 after less than a season with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. He went 34-17 while with the Razorbacks, making them a force to be reckoned with in the SEC.
Petrino led the team to a BCS Bowl for the 2010 season. The Hogs finished No. 5 in the rankings at the end of the 2011 season.
"Our expectations of character and integrity in our employees can be no less than what we expect from our students. No single individual is bigger than the team," Long said.
Assistant Taver Johnson has been named coach through spring practice, which ends April 21.
Acknowledging "it's a difficult time of year to be searching for a head football coach, no question," Long said the university "can command a high level football coach and we're not going to compromise that. If we have to go through the season with an interim, I'm going to consider that."
Petrino issued a statement after Tuesday's firing, obtained by several media outlets including Arkansas Sports 360.
"The simplest response I have is: I'm sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I've let down by making selfish decisions. I've taken a lot of criticism in the past. Some deserved, some not deserved. This time, I have no one to blame but myself," the statement read.
Petrino goes on to say his sole focus now is trying to repair the damage done to his family.
"They did not ask for any of this and deserve better. I am committed to being a better husband, father and human being as a result of this and will work each and every day to prove that to my family, friends and others."
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