University of Arizona's (UA) head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired Tuesday after his former assistant accused him of sexual harassment. The 54-year-old, in a statement later Tuesday, admitted to cheating on his wife but denied harassing anyone at workplace.
A $7.5 million notice of claim was filed with the state’s attorney general’s office Tuesday alleging a hostile work environment. In his response to the allegations, Rodriguez said he was "deeply disappointed to learn by email this evening that the University of Arizona is buying out my contract."
"This action comes on the heels of an outside investigation by the University into alleged workplace misconduct. This investigation concerned a complaint by my former administrative assistant, who threatened a $7.5 million lawsuit alleging harassment," he said. "The University initiated a thorough outside investigation. I fully cooperated with the investigation, including voluntarily taking and passing a polygraph. The University determined that there was no truth to her accusations and found me innocent of wrongdoing."
Rodriguez, who came to Arizona a year after his three-year run at Michigan ended, addressed the adultery, saying: "Regrettably, the complaint included a single truth — in the past, I had a consensual extramarital affair with a woman who is not affiliated with the University. It was wrong, and I have apologized to my wife and family."
Rodriguez married Rita Setliff in 1989 and the couple have two children, Raquel and Rhett. She is popular in the university for her "Miss Rita's World Famous Nacho Cheese Dip." Rodriguez's wife makes "one of the most coveted awards on campus" by giving it to deserving players as a weekly reward.
"I am still working incredibly hard to repair the bonds I've broken and regain the trust of my wife and children, whom I love dearly," Rodriguez said in his statement. "I am not a perfect man, but the claims by my former assistant are simply not true and her demands for a financial settlement are outrageous. I am saddened that these accusations and investigation have caused my family additional stress."
He adds, "I will vigorously fight these fabricated and groundless claims."
Detailing part of the claim made by Rodriguez's former assistant, the Daily Star reported Rodriguez and his closest aides lied to Setliff to cover up an extramarital affair, and his aides were ordered to protect the coach’s reputation above all else.
The former employee said in the claim she “had to walk on eggshells at work, because of (Rodriguez’s) volatility and sheer power over the department.” She also said the troubles incurred upon her by Rodriguez resulted in her suffering from migraines.
Despite being fired, Rodriguez will reportedly receive a $6 million buyout from the university.
"While this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision," the UA statement read. "And it is a decision that lives up to the core values of the University of Arizona."