Arkansas Names Nick Holt To Job Held By Petrino’s Mistress

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Nick Holt, a former University of Washington defensive coordinator and Idaho head coach, has been hired as the University of Arkansas football program’s on-campus recruiting coordinator.

“Nick Holt is a tremendous addition to our program,” Razorback head coach John L. Smith said in a news release Wednesday from the Athletic Media Relations Office.

Holt replaces Jessica Dorrell, the 25-year-old former Razorback volleyball player whose affair with football coach Bobby Petrino led to his being fired. Dorrell was hired for the job over 158 other applicants despite not meeting minimum requirements. Holt was not among the applicants at that time, officials said.

Holt was a four-year letterman and linebacker for the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where he an honorable mention All-America and team captain and MVP.

He later became defensive coordinator for the Washington Huskies from 2009 to 2011 and served as defensive coordinator at another current PAC 12 school, Southern Cal, from 2006 to 2008. Before that, Holt was head coach at Idaho from 2004 to 2005.

Holt worked with Smith at Idaho in the 1990s and was Smith’s defensive line coach at Louisville from 1998 to 2000.

“I’ve known Nick a long time, and he has been part of my staff previously so he knows our expectations,” Smith said. “He will be able to come in here and fit well within our staff, and he brings a tremendous amount of football knowledge. He is great interacting with student-athletes and truly wants to put them in a position to succeed. I have no doubt Nick will be successful in this role for us.”

In his job with the Razorbacks, Holt will “organize the recruiting process for the football team, including initial eligibility for each incoming student-athlete,” the news release states.

Holt also will plan recruiting visits and help with the football program’s daily operations, according to the release.

Holt’s wife, Julie, was head women’s basketball coach at Nevada, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho. They have two sons, Ben, 15, and Nick, 19, a redshirt freshman linebacker at Montana.

Dorrell resigned as the football program’s recruiting coordinator in April after reaching a $13,933.75 settlement with the university.

That sum equaled a quarter of her annual $55,735 salary.

Holt also will be paid $55,735 a year, athletic department officials said.

Dorrell was one of 159 applicants for the football job previously held by Dann Kabala, who had left for a similar position at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dorrell and two other applicants interviewed for the job after Petrino and Athletics Director Jeff Long sought to fast-track her application, according to documents 5NEWS obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Her resume was delivered to the Human Resources department on March 12, the day she was interviewed by Mark Robinson, football operations director, the documents show.

Dorrell received the job despite not meeting a minimum requirement that candidates have at least two years experience in a football program. One of the three finalists was a former All-America at LSU who played in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals.

Long signed Dorrell’s job offer letter on March 20.

As part of her resignation, Dorrell agreed she would not attempt to sell or profit from her affiliation with Razorback athletics. She also must not engage in any commercial activity that portrays her employment at the university in a negative manner.

Long said he and Dorrell agreed her resignation was in the best interest of all parties involved, according to a news release accompanying the agreement.

“While Ms. Dorrell had a legitimate right to apply for and accept a position within the football program, the circumstances surrounding the former coach’s decision to hire her compromised her ability to be effective in such a position,” Long said.

Dorrell was riding a Harley-Davidson Road King with Petrino at the time of his accident on April 1 in rural Madison County. Petrino, a 51-year-old married grandfather, was fired on April 10 after revealing to Long he and Dorrell were engaged in an “inappropriate relationship” at the time of her hiring.

In the accident, the coach suffered four broken ribs, a cracked vertebra and cuts and abrasions on his nose and face. He wore a neck brace to an Aug. 3 news conference at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Immediately after the news conference, Petrino told 5NEWS he was alone on the motorcycle at the time of the accident. In firing Petrino, however, Long noted the coach had not been truthful about the motorcycle incident. Long also said Petrino inappropriately gave Dorrell a $20,000 gift, which she used to buy a black Acura.

Below is the news release from the university announcing Holt’s job in the Razorback football program:

University of Arkansas head football coach John L. Smith announced Wednesday the hiring of Nick Holt as the Razorbacks’ On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator.

“Nick Holt is a tremendous addition to our program,” Coach Smith said. “I’ve known Nick a long time, and he has been part of my staff previously so he knows our expectations. He will be able to come in here and fit well within our staff, and he brings a tremendous amount of football knowledge. He is great interacting with student-athletes and truly wants to put them in a position to succeed. I have no doubt Nick will be successful in this role for us.”

As On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator, Holt will organize the recruiting process for the football team, including initial eligibility for each incoming student-athlete. He also will plan and organize all official and unofficial recruiting visits while assisting with the daily operations of the Razorback football program.

Holt most recently was the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington from 2009-11. Before that he was defensive coordinator at the University of Southern California from 2006-08 and the head coach at Idaho from 2004-05. He worked with Coach Smith at Idaho from 1990-94, serving as the Vandals’ defensive coordinator in 1994 and for three more seasons through 1997 before moving to Louisville to be Coach Smith’s defensive line coach from 1998-2000. From 2001-03 he was the linebackers coach at USC and helped the Trojans win the 2003 national championship.

His first season in charge of Washington’s defense saw dramatic statistical improvement across the board. The Huskies gave up 12 fewer points per game and allowed 62 fewer yards per game than they did in 2008. In 2010, Holt’s defense played a key role in the Huskies’ late-season run to the Holiday Bowl. Continued improvement culminated in the bowl game, where the UW defense held Nebraska to just seven points in a 19-7 victory, the last in a season-ending, four-game win streak. A big part of that success was predicated on a pass defense that ended the year ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10.

In his final season coordinating the USC defense, he helped lead the Trojans to their NCAA-record seventh straight 11-win season, a seventh consecutive Pac-10 title and seventh straight BCS bowl berth. USC ended the season by beating Penn State for an unprecedented third straight Rose Bowl victory. The 2008 Trojans led the NCAA in scoring defense at 9.00 points per game, holding eight opponents to seven points or less and posting three shutouts, pass defense with 134.38 yards per game allowed and in pass efficiency defense with a 85.75 rating while ranking second in the country by allowing 221.77 yards of total offense per game, the lowest total by a Pac-10 school since 1971.

In 2006, Holt’s first season as the Trojans’ defensive coordinator, they ranked 20th in the NCAA in total defense, 11th in scoring defense and tied for ninth in rushing defense after ranking 48th in the nation in total defense and 35th in scoring defense in 2005. In 2007, USC ranked second in the country in total and scoring defense and was fourth in the nation in rush defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense.

Holt’s pupils, including linebacker Lofa Tatupu and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, have earned an impressive number of accolades. Tatupu was an All-American in 2004 and was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Tatupu played six seasons for the Seahawks, where he earned three Pro Bowl selections, one All-Pro selection and was named to Seattle’s 35th Anniversary Team. Ellis was an All-American in 2006 and 2007, the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, a two-time Morris Trophy Winner and the seventh overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.  Ellis was the fourth player coached by Holt to earn their conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

Holt began his coaching career in 1986 at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., and moved to the UNLV in 1987 as a graduate assistant. He was promoted to linebackers coach for the 1988-89 seasons before moving to Idaho, where in 1994 the Vandals led NCAA Division I-AA in rushing defense. With Holt in charge of the defensive line at Louisville, the Cardinals ranked second in the NCAA in rushing defense and broke the UL record with 50 sacks, which ranked second in the NCAA, in 2000.

Holt was a four-year letterman at linebacker at the University of the Pacific and earned honorable-mention All-America honors in 1985, when he was the Tigers’ MVP and team captain. Holt graduated from Pacific in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political economics. He and his wife Julie, who was the head women’s basketball coach at Nevada, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho, have two sons, Nick, 19, who is a redshirt freshman linebacker at Montana, and Ben, 15.

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