Many of you have either heard of or followed Coach Bobby Petrino and his escapades over the last several weeks. He was terminated from his employment as head coach at Arkansas and his conduct can be a lesson for many in the workplace. As Birmingham News columnist Jon Solomon wrote "Petrino hired his mistress, Jessica Dorrell, over 158 other applicants to do NCAA eligibility work, paid her $20,000 under the table, and lied to his boss about their relationship. Try doing that at your job and see how long you'll be employed." I have often said that anyone within an organization can subject the organization to embarrassment, lawsuits, adverse publicity and adverse consequences, from the highest (President/Head Football Coach) to the lowest level employee. This is a perfect example. Arkansas knew or should have known what it was getting with Petrino: someone who had problems at other jobs and may have had a history of dishonesty. He was paid millions of dollars, and was successful as a football coach, taking the Arkansas program to heights it has not seen for decades. Through his selfishness, he left Arkansas no choice but to terminate him for cause. Other issues need to be addressed, such as what to do with the 25 year old mistress? Will any of the 158 applicants sue Arkansas for not hiring them? Did Dorrell report the $20,000 as income? What impact will Petrino's conduct have on his wife and 4 children? Will he find another job?
As with many situations, the cover-up after the motorcycle accident caused additional problems. Originally, Petrino reported that he was the only one on the motorcycle. A lie. He denied his relationship with Dorrell. A lie. We will never know, but if Petrino came clean with his boss after the wreck, would he still be the head coach at Arkansas? His chances certainly would have been better if he had told the truth.
Practice pointers. All employers must be aware that problems can occur with anyone at the company. When hiring someone, know who you are hiring, and be aware that prior problems may appear again. When a problem does occur, it is important to do a timely, thorough and complete investigation, and take the appropriate remedial measures as soon as possible.