U of A Moves On One Year After Petrino Scandal

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino's April 1, 2012, motorcycle crash changed the course of the Razorback football program.

University Chancellor G. David Gearhart said that time period was hard on a lot of people.

”We spent a lot of time together during those tough days trying to do what we thought was the right thing, the fair thing," Gearhart said. "I think it behooves leaders to try to do what’s fair.”

The accident happened in Madison County on Arkansas 16 near the Crosses community. Petrino suffered four broken ribs to the upper chest and a cracked or broken vertebra.

After a news conference last April, Petrino told 5NEWS he was alone on the motorcycle when it crashed. However, as 5NEWS first reported not long after that, it turned out he was with Jessica Dorrell, a member of his football staff.

Dorrell was appointed to the position of Student Athlete Development Coordinator for the Arkansas football team March 28, just five days before Petrino’s accident.

Athletic director Jeff Long fired Petrino on April 10 after Petrino, a married grandfather, conceded he'd had an inappropriate relationship with the much younger Dorrell. He now is the head coach at Western Kentucky University.

Gearhart said he trusts the athletic director's leadership.

”I think looking back on it now a year later, I believe that Jeff made good decisions, the right decisions. I think that has been proven,” Gearhart said.

The fan base was also affected by Petrino's decisions. Kyle Crafton reflected on how he felt a year ago, comparing it to his attitude about the football program to this date.

"When I first saw it on the news, it was awful," Crafton said. "It did hurt our program obviously in win-loss records but I believe Arkansas is on the upright now."

Kendall Apple, football fan, said he believes in the new leadership. Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema was hired December 2012 to lead the Razorbacks.

"I think he's going to be good recruiting, so hopefully he'll turn it back up," Apple said.

Bob Dornblaser, an Arkansas alumnus, said he felt bad for the players' morale during the Petrino scandal. Dornblaser said he has high hopes for the future of the football program.

"It's his first year and we got one of the toughest schedules in the nation, but year two, year three, we think we'll be there," Dornbalser said.

Gearhart said the mood on the campus has become more positive.

”I think the university is a whole different place in so many respects. People are feeling so good about the Razorback nation," Gearhart said. "Obviously, we want to win more ball games, and we will.”

The first time the public will be able to watch the new coach and team will be during the Red-White spring game on April 20 at 2 p.m.