Mays Business School
Bottom Line Ethics
11Apr/12132

Tick, tick, tick

I have written on multiple occasions about the tendency in our society for competence to trump integrity. Highly skilled individuals who accomplish the goals of those who hire them are regularly given free rein to succeed by whatever means necessary. People with integrity who fall short of the goals, and who refuse to compromise their integrity to get where they need to be, are often cut loose.

Since Bobby Petrino’s much publicized motorcycle crash on April Fool’s Day with a 25-year-old football program employee on the back, there has been significant discussion about how the story would end. Athletic director Jeff Long announced yesterday that Petrino was being terminated immediately “with cause,” meaning that there would be no buyout of his contract. Long determined that Petrino had violated the morals clause of that contract, something pretty much everybody else had figured out by the end of the day on April 1.

But the morals clause didn’t require that he be fired; it only allowed it. And in the current environment of intercollegiate athletics, it is pretty easy to be cynical about what administrators will do in these types of situations. A CBS Sports report indicated that the value of the football program to the university has increased 59 percent since Petrino became the coach, and his last two teams finished in the top 10. With Arkansas playing in the SEC West along with the two teams who played in last year’s national championship game, this is no small accomplishment. Athletic directors are hard pressed to move against coaches who have the support of the university’s board and of boosters.

But when Long looks in the mirror, he knows that, as the incoming athletic director, he was the one who hired someone with a reputation for lying and dissembling. He also stole him away from the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of the NFL season; the coach left notes in his players’ lockers letting them know he was leaving rather than meeting with them as a group. From the moment he was hired, Long knew that this was a high risk, high reward hire. He was hiring a ticking time bomb. Some boards of directors hire CEOs using the same reasoning. And Long was smart enough to structure the contract to make it very difficult for Petrino to leave on a whim, and easy to fire him if he went off the deep end. Long thought that he had largely controlled his risk.

Petrino, using the terms of my profession, is a walking control weakness. He is the type of person who can override all the systems you have in place to insure compliance with the rules. And he did just that. He not only had an affair with a former volleyball player who worked for the university’s foundation, he allegedly gave her a $20,000 gift, and then he hired her over 158 other candidates for a position within the football program. The collateral damage is not just to Petrino’s family. He leaves behind him evidence of sexual harassment and violations of explicit university policy, if not state and federal law. It is hard to fathom the amount of time that university attorneys will spend cleaning up the Bobby Petrino mess. And that is assuming that there is not another shoe to drop. As an auditor, I would be reasonably skeptical about rules being followed in other areas of the football program.

Adam Smith once said, “To attain to this envied situation, the candidates for fortune too frequently abandon the paths of virtue; for unhappily, the road which leads to the one and that which leads to the other, lie sometimes in very opposite directions.” I am pretty confident that the road that Bobby Petrino was traveling down with a blonde on the back of his motorcycle was not the road to virtue. And from all appearances, despite his driving record, Razorback boosters were hopping on the back and hitching a ride. Kudos to Jeff Long for catching a cab back to town to begin the process of rebuilding Razorback integrity.

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  1. This is a really interesting article and I agree that other areas of the football program should be examined. Based on the conditions that he was hired and the way Petrino has been portrayed, it would seem that the Arkansas football program focused on the short run results by hiring someone who would be considered a high risk. Like many business professionals who do not want to lose their top performers, no matter their ethical conduct, for fear of losing their success, it seems that the Arkansas program attempted to see how long they could last. This oddly enough is similar to professionals we have discussed about in class that have fallen on an ethical slippery slope. Like Mr. Bauer and his accomplices it would seem that their success would blind then to risky behavior they were taking.

  2. Considering circumstances revolving around Petrino’s hiring and his reputation, it seems that Arkansas was solely focused on short-term satisfaction and wins, rather than hiring a coach that would foster a positive environment for the young student athletes. In the head football coach role, there is more to the job than just leading your team to a 10-win season and bowl game. The job also entails modeling integrity and character upon these impressionable young men. Petrino did not exhibit this type of behavior, neither at the college or professional level. Instead of considering the long-term investment in the program, Arkansas chose the short-term satisfaction and is now reaping those consequences.

  3. In the wake of the numerous scandals surrounding large universities in the last few years, it is encouraging to hear of an athletic director who, despite having a winning record in America’s best football conference, values the integrity of his coaches and staff. But if Long wrote clauses into Petrino’s contract knowing he was a high risk, was two years in the top ten worth the mess they are cleaning up now? Was the investment in a coach with obvious issues worth the national attention Arkansas has received the past two seasons? And if this situation was worth where Arkansas is today, how will the attention from these events affect the future of the athletic program?

  4. Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle crash incident was embarrassing by itself, but Coach Petrino worsened the situation when he repeatedly lied to Arkansas fans, the media, and his boss, Jeff Long. Petrino was asked numerous times since April 1st about the circumstances surrounding the accident, and he lied time and time again. He was given multiple chances to come clean about his improper behavior, but his reputation took another hit because he was repeatedly dishonest. We have seen this multiple times in major accounting scandals; people responsible for wrongdoing cannot seem to come clean about improprieties, but the truth eventually does come out and is even more damaging to those who have been dishonest. I doubt that Petrino would have been able to save his job if he had come clean, but he would have been able to show a little more integrity when he was let go.

  5. While being a head coach and having moral integrity is a quality we would think of as being the most important, for most college programs that is just an added benefit. Even though Petrino was hired as high risk, the end result was what Arkansas wanted, which was a winning team. The Arkansas recruiting class improved and it was because of Petrino’s ability to win, not his moral integrity. This may sound offensive, but look what has happened within our own school. We replaced Mike Sherman because he wasn’t winning. If a coach has a known reputation to win, we will probably be more inclined to hire him and just push his moral reputation aside until it surfaces. When it does, replace him and move on. Its the process. For college football winning brings money, which brings an audience and publicity.

  6. It’s not a secret that SEC colleges are under immense pressure to succeed on the sports field, especially when it comes to football. Just by taking a glance at the top conferences’ 2010-2011 revenue (http://www.ensbsn.com/2011/11/college-sports-revenue-2011-the-list/), anyone can comprehend what’s at stake:

    Total Revenue By Conference

    SEC: $1,066,935,731
    Big Ten: $966,799,125
    Big 12: $890,308,681
    ACC: $753,069,826
    Pac-10: $648,928,528

    Despite this SEC pot of gold that every school wants its ‘the bigger the better ‘share of, one has to step back and put things in perspective. Did no one at Arkansas, especially Jeff Long, ever wonder, ‘Does the fact that we have to write a morality clause into this coach’s contract probably mean we shouldn’t hire him?’ How much self-rationalization does it take to trump your common sense saying, ‘If he’s does it once, he’s going to do it again.’ While I’m all for giving someone a second chance, there was no reason to believe that Bobby Petrino was a ‘changed man’ when he was hired away from the Falcons.

  7. This article reminds me of the discussion we had in class about how to keep your ethics when you are surrounded by unethical people. One response involved keeping in touch with trusted advisors in order to preserve that connection with ethical behavior. However, I am not sure that is really enough to last in a toxic ethical environment.

    SEC football is famous for the maxim “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Of the soon-to-be 14 members, 12 have been placed on NCAA probation since 1990. Only Vanderbilt can say it has never been placed on probation. While his were much more serious, Petrino has demonstrated ethical and judgment lapses that many in his profession have committed. In the pressure-cooker of SEC football coaching, almost every program seems to be breaking the rules in some way. Even Arkansas last coach, Houston Nutt, drew a 3 year probation period from the NCAA and ended up fired amid his own controversy.

    It appears that honest and ethical coaches in the SEC (and nationally) are in short supply. Either ethical coaches are corrupted by the SEC or the system attracts those willing to do anything it takes to get an edge, and for whom the SEC is just a bigger stage to do what they have always done. It seems impossible for a coach and a football program to conduct itself ethically at this level.

  8. Long was aware of Patrino’s questionable character when he chose to hire Patrino. He even had to write a clause into Patrino’s contract over morality, so why would he take the risk and hire this coach? He seems to be rewarding Patrino’s initial unethical behavior and telling him that it is okay. Could Long really have expected for someone who was hired under those pretenses to prove to be anything else?

    There are plenty of good coaches that are willing to follow the rules. Is winning a football game really THAT important? It is great to believe that people can change, but it doesn’t negate the fact that one needs to look at someone’s past behaviors in this type of situation. The reality is, most people do not change their behavior without some type of consequence. If you reward unethical behavior, then you can surely expect that behavior to continue.

  9. It’s sad that we’ve come to a point in college athletics where we have to applaud an AD for making what was unquestionably the correct decision. The fact of the matter is, we don’t even expect athletic departments to be ethical anymore. Schools have become so obsessed with winning (=money), that they will compromise almost anything to do so. Look at Baylor, a school whose mission is to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment”. They recently punished Scott Drew, who committed major NCAA infractions, with a two Big 12 game suspension. This only a year after the three game suspension for LaceDarius Dunn, who broke his girlfriend’s jaw. Baylor is only one example of this type of behavior, it just happens to be the most eye-opening since they are a Christian Institution.

    It is this type of senseless environment that makes us congratulate athletic programs for doing things which we would normally consider common sense.

  10. It’s pretty apparent that a strong ethical backbone is not required to be a coach at a major academic institution. As you stated, Arkansas was fully aware of the type of person they were getting in Bobby Petrino. This was someone who was coaching at 3 different places in the span of 3 years. He never showed loyalty or commitment to his word.

    Arkansas deserves some of the blame. They were criticized for the way the initial hire was handled, and this simply solidified the perceived sliminess of both parties. These athletic directors are letting coaches slide by with pretty much anything, as long as they win football games. Until their questionable, unethical, and in some cases highly illegal actions become public, these board members and directors stand by idly.

  11. I found this post to be extremely interesting, especially regarding Long’s decisions for hiring and firing Petrino. Clearly, Long knew how much of a risk it was to hire a coach with a history of questionable behavior, which is why the contract had specific stipulations on moral behavior. Long had to have expected that something was bound to go wrong, but he hired him anyway knowing what Petrino was capable of. Although it is admirable that he did end up firing Petrino, why did he even hire him in the first place? Did Long never consider the consequences of Petrino’s actions before hiring him? Was he expecting to handle any incidents without the public finding out?

    This situation parallels with the fall of Enron in that someone with known questionable morals was hired, one incident led to the discovery of an entire mess, and the blame was mounted on the un-ethical hire. Although their endings are much different, the structure is still the same. If we know someone has the ability to ruin everything, why do we continue to place him in such a powerful position? Have we not learned from history?

  12. Bobby Petrino reminds me of Bill Clinton. Both were great at what they did, but both made highly risky short sighted decisions that kept them from pursuing something great. Both of them had affairs and rumors of affairs following them for a while. What is really sad is that it really hurt those that followed them and put their faith in them.

    Bill Clinton’s presidency presided over the strongest American economy in the modern era, a drastic reduction in crime that was threatening to dismantle the country, and a dramatic turnaround from record deficits to record surpluses. Yet, because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal he became a widespread presidential joke at home and abroad. This dramatically limited his power to do much of anything the last two years of his eight year presidency.

    Likewise the Bobby Petrino era oversaw the resurgence of a football program that was a perennial pretender to one that competed for a national championship in just four years. Yet, because of his affair he will be forced into a much lesser roll at a less prestigious program when he could have cemented himself as one of the greatest coaches in college football.

    The two most important things in football and politics are winning and the economy. These two men delivered both and left both America and Arkansas a much better place. It is a shame that their ethical lapses prevented them from doing something truly great. Let’s thank them for their service and lament that they thought with not one head, but two.

  13. I don’t know much about this incident, but I find all the different aspects of the story very interesting. After I finished reading, the first question that came to my mind was –At this point, is Jeff Long really regretting his decision to hire Petrino? I’d venture to say probably not. He knew the risk he was taking, and he carefully weighed the benefits against the potential losses during the hiring process for head coach. Perhaps he thinks it worked out pretty well overall, what with the 59% increase in value of the football program. Though, this is just my speculation.

    Part of me questions the sentence at the end of this blog. Can a football program really have integrity when the athletic director seems to not have any on his own? Maybe that statement is a little over dramatic because I know nothing more about Long than what I just read in this blog. And actually, I truly believe that good people of integrity can make bad mistakes. However, Long’s mistake was just blatantly irresponsible. It has me pondering over his true character and what effect that character will have on the future of Arkansas’ football program.

  14. In many aspects, society today is too self-centered. People care about what they can get now and what will benefit themselves the most in the current moment. I understand that money and power can sway your decision in the present moment, but often people don’t stop to think about those around them and how their decision in the present moment could alter those people’s futures as well as his/her own. Petrino has four kids and a wife. I wonder if he ever considered them when he started a relationship with the 25 year old women or does he just think about it now after being caught. I also wonder how the 25 year old mistress (that is still on the athletic staff) feels about playing a role in a situation that has probably torn apart a family. I appreciate the fact that Long is now trying to build back the integrity of the University, but he should have thought on the long term effects on not just the football program but the entire University of Arkansas of hiring a high risk coach in the first place.

  15. Long based his hiring decision on his duty to lead a successful team; however, he dismissed the risks associated with hiring Petrino. He knew Petrino’s record of success could lead to a winning record for the team, and he also knew Petrino was a threat to the program’s integrity. In his decision-making process, Long abandoned his other duty: to hire a leader of high moral character to not only coach his players in technical skills on the field but also to instill principles that they can carry off the field. Petrino’s contract is evidence of Long’s foresight. Long took into account the potential consequences he would face by hiring Petrino, and now, Arkansas is facing the repercussions that Long knew were possible by hiring Petrino. Now in hindsight, I am sure Long is wondering what we all are wondering: Was the risk of damaging the program’s reputation worth the short-lived rewards?

  16. Reading this blog makes me wonder how far people in our society will stoop in order to satisfy their own personal wants and desires. Especially in the realm of coaching, we have seen many instances recently where people are making unethical decisions in order to benefit themselves. This was evident not only in Bobby Petrino’s case, but also with Mike Leach from Tech and both the men and woman’s basketball coaches at Baylor. In the case of Bobby Petrino, he risked everything for the pleasure of a 25 year old woman. I am personally proud of Arkansas for taking the initiative in firing Petrino for his actions. Sadly, there are many schools today who would not uphold their ethical standards if it meant hurting their football season. In light of that, I was disturbed to read in another article that Petrino will most likely be hired at another school shortly. I believe ethical character should be of more value to schools and individuals today than fame or success but unfortunately this is often not the case.

  17. I think these ethical issues are important especially because these people involved are in the public eyes. People talk about their behaviors, consequences and punishments they should get, or their actual escape from justice. Their behaviors have a general influence on the public. We sometimes hold on to these guys as models in every way. However, the result from time to time turns out to be disappointment. Success seems to be the substitute for everything. Those people who don’t compromise should be appreciated, but we don’t even know who they are because they are not the “stars”. This also reminds me of Pro. Roach’s speech. We shouldn’t tolerate these unethical behaviors, even if most of the time it is a hard parth to take.

  18. The question is did Jeff Long metaphorically “catch a cab back to town to begin the process of rebuilding Razorback integrity,” or instead did he initially fill up the motorcycle’s gas tank, buy some insurance, and down the road realize how much this had exposed the university to legal threats.

    I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for the conversations and conference calls that Jeff Long made after the incident. For me it seems like the decision was made from a purely legal perspective, and the verdict on the ethics of the athletic department at Arkansas is still out. From text messages obtained via the Associated Press on April 6, 2012, the assistant athletic director, Chris Wyrick, stated that Long “wants it to work” and that Petrino has “done the job and most feel like you [Petrino] are due a mulligan”.

    It may be a cynical attitude, but I’m not sure if Jeff Long ever analyzed the decision from an ethical lens. It appears that the department tried to make the situation work until it realized just how exposed the university would be to sexual harassment cases and other lawsuits in its wake.

  19. It amazes me how much things change from childhood to adulthood. When we were little and played sports, it was all about having fun and learning different skills that would be helpful later in life. Your parents are typically your coaches, are doing it for free, and don’t worry about the politics that come along with it. Then you roll around to college and have people like Petrino or Sandusky coaching you. They obviously aren’t making ethical decisions so what kind of example are you suppose to follow. You have to hope your own values and morals are intact and you would know right from wrong. I am glad though that Long let him go and hope that others in his position would do the same.

  20. I am not a huge sports fanatic, but this controversial story has been brought up in several conversations with family and friends. This is not the first instance of hearing about a scandal in a college sports program. I feel that many schools take great pride in their sports programs, especially football, as it tends to bring in the most revenue.

    Arkansas is a university that is well-known for their skilled football team. After the news of coach Petrino’s actions leaked, he was put in a different light. It seems to me that most die-hard Arkansas fans, as well as other supporters of the team, are downplaying Petrino’s actions because he was such a great football coach. It must not go unnoticed that Petrino was in the wrong. He acted unethically by engaging in a relationship with another woman, hiring her over other equally qualified candidates, and providing her with expensive gifts. Although the team may suffer from the absence of Petrino, the football program should feel justified in their decision to terminate him for his unwarranted actions.

  21. I would have to agree that Jeff Long made the right decision in the end to fire Petrino, but I think it’s more important to focus on the decisions that he made when the university wasn’t under a microscope. Given the terms that Long hired Patrino under, I don’t think that it should come as a surprise to anyone that something like this happened. Long saw an opportunity to bring in a results driven coach and did everything in his power to bring him to Arkansas. As mentioned in the article, Long was “smart enough to structure the contract to make it very difficult for Petrino to leave on a whim, and easy to fire him if he went off the deep end.”

    Long knew of Patrino’s reputation but hired him anyway because he was only focused on the high rewards that he could bring. Patrino’s hiring is evidence that there is a lot of pressure for SEC football teams to do well, which is why I also agree that the other areas of the program should be examined.

  22. I agree that Jeff Long’s hiring of Bobby Petrino was risky for the reason that he never stayed anywhere for a very long time. From 1990 to 2000, Petrino spent time coaching at 6 different programs. Like you said, the guy up and left the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of the season, which isn’t exactly what you would expect from your “leader”. However, I don’t think there is any way that Jeff Long could have envisioned Bobby Petrino was capable of doing what he did. It’s not like Petrino had a criminal background; he simply changed jobs frequently.

    I feel that Jeff Long did a great job handling this entire process. He was patient, gathered all of the facts, and ultimately made the right decision. Unfortunately, as Bobby Petrino showed all of us, there is just no way to know exactly what “leaders” are capable of doing. All we can do is sit back and hope that they live their lives like an ethical leader should.

  23. It is sad what college athletics have come to. It seems that every time we turn around, there is another scandal involving officials in these positions, and it is clear that many of these officials seem to be lacking moral integrity. From looking at recent events at Arkansas, Penn State, and Baylor, it seems like these officials are taking advantage of the power they have over others in their programs. It also seems like those close to the issue would rather make ethically questionable decisions, rather than rock the boat at their respective universities.

    I am sure it would not be easy to be the one person attempting to speak up in a situation in which your boss and peers seem to not be worried. But I cannot imagine it would be difficult to make the right decision when the situation involves a coach having an affair with a student, a coach taking advantage of young, underprivileged children, or hiring a person with questionable ethics to run your athletic program. So the fact that any of these situations have occurred in the past year leaves me feeling very concerned about the current state of college athletics and the ethical standards behind some of these programs.

  24. What a tough decision Athletic Director Long had to make. Petrino had brought great increases of exposure and alumni dollars to the university since Houston Nutt resigned as head coach four years ago. Because of this, he could have fined Petrino/suspended him for a few games but not fired him.

    Long’s actions set the standards for other school’s AD’s when faced with scandals and allegations. It shows that college coaches, although powerful, can be humbled by such an action. Kudos to AD Long and the Razorback family.

  25. I agree with the assertion in the article that Petrino was a “ticking time bomb.” Considering the circumstances from which he was hired, and the fact that his contact had to be written in a way that could hopefully mitigate some of the risks involved with hiring him, I think the school should have seen this coming. From the way this post describes his contract, it seems that the school should have known that honesty, integrity, and a good moral compass was not in the cards for Petrino and Long knew this. It seems the only goal was the have a good team regardless of the price. In my opinion the school should have seen a scandal like this on the horizon as soon as Petrino was brought on, and maybe they should re-examine its other programs as well for similar problems.

  26. In our International Accounting class, we’ve been learning a lot about executive compensation by means of call options. The hiring of “ticking time bombs” as football coaches can actually be a metaphor for this! We’ve learned that as the volatility of stock prices (riskiness of coach) increase, the value of the option (coach) also increases because it’s more likely to reach a higher stock price (large amount of wins).

    Regardless, I’m glad to see Long was able to make that tough decision to fire Petrino, and thus show that the Arkansas program values integrity. Hopefully other AD’s will follow suit in no longer allowing competence to trump integrity.

    • I agree with everything you had to say about measuring the coach and Long’s decision to relieve Petrino of his position; but, the last sentence, “Hopefully other AD’s will follow suit in no longer allowing competence to trump integrity” does not exist and cannot exist on the field or off the field.

      The problem with integrity proceeding competence in a hiring decision is, if you do not possess the necessary competency for the position than you are not eligible for that position. If your coach cannot coach, quarterback cannot throw a spiral, or CPA cannot add/subtract, weather he is a holy man or Charlie Sheen, he/she will not be the coach/quarterback/CPA.

      I agree with Long’s decision to hire Petrino over his known flaws not pertaining to his ability to coach. Only Long would know the exact reason why he made is hire, but it is pretty evident that Long saw something in Petrino that led him to believe Petrino could coach Arkansas Football back into the national picture and hindsight would say Long’s calculation of Petrino was reasonably accurate. I personally would not condone the personal choices Petrino made, but did he do anything illegal? Another point would be how is Petrino’s selection/favoritism of the girl any different than a neighbor kid/friend/family coming to work for you, a selection processes for a scholarship, or how hard a teacher searches for errors to count off on? Long hired Petrino for his competence to be himself and get the wins and that’s what Petrino did; therefore I say Long justified in his position to do his job an should be without blame.

  27. After reading this article, the first thing I wondered was what Long’s initial thoughts were when he found out about the motorcycle incident on April 1. The next thing I wondered is what his subsequent thoughts were, what processing and reasoning took place to decide on the subsequent course of action. The morals clause of Petrino’s contract “didn’t require that he be fired; it only allowed it.” As athletic director, Long had a decision to make about how he would respond and what Petrino’s consequences would be. How did he define his duty as AD? What were the short- and long-term consequences of letting Petrino stay? Of firing him? What precedent did he want to set within the Arkansas athletic program? What values and standards did he want to communicate to coaches, athletes, students, even boosters? I am sure all of these aspects played into his ultimate decision to immediately fire Petrino with cause.

  28. It seems pretty apparent that Long chose to tolerate unethical behavior in order to receive those short-term gains for his football program. A coaches job is to not only produce wins, but to be a role model for the team by displaying integrity and good character; something Petrino clearly lacked. Despite the warning signs that Petrino’s reputation gave off, he was still hired and now Arkansas is facing the consequences. Just as accountants give in to unethical temptations for monetary benefits, Long gave in to unethical temptations for wins. I do agree with Long’s decision to fire Petrino; it was quite obvious to me considering Petrino’s past.

  29. Unfortunately for Long, it is scandals like these that can really set a football program back. Collegiate athletics is an area where if you do not succeed and you do not succeed quickly, schools have no problem letting people go. We saw this most recently here at Texas A&M with Coach Sherman. Even with numerous players attesting to his high moral character and being a man that, from the outside, seemed like a great person, he was let go because officials did not believe the football program was headed in the right direction.

    It’s unfortunate that people like Sherman, who do their best to train their players in high morality and changes their lives not just their stats, suffer when a team doesn’t produce enough wins in a year. But coaches like Petrino with a shady past and a track record that is less than stellar, can thrive if they get put into the right situations. It will be interesting to see who Arkansas goes with next, but I can almost guarantee he will have a spotless past to avoid this in the future.

  30. I think that this story provides a good contrast with the blog post about Mike Sherman. Sherman was the epitome of integrity in the position of head coach. I truly believe this was one of the main reasons he was hired. People knew that he was a man of great character and that would win over the respect of his players. But ultimately, alumni and boosters want wins. They want a return on their investment that can only be measured in results, or wins.

    In Petrino’s case, he was hired by an athletic director who knew his reputation both good and bad. He was willing to risk future bad behavior and the reputation of the Arkansas football program for the potential success that Petrino could bring to the team.

    Sherman may not have had the best record as far as winning during his time here at A&M, but you ask any of the players that he coached and they will all talk about how much they respect him. That kind of inspiring behavior is what those players will carry over into every aspect of their lives.

    It’s just very interesting to see what people are willing to risk to be successful. Then they don’t do anything about it unless something is made public or the actions are so clearly wrong that they have no choice but to fire that unethical person.

  31. In not knowing all the information available in the case, I do believe what Paul Searle said earlier is a very relevant point. Many colleges now a days will win no matter what in order to get more recruits and moe money to their school. However, it is confusing that an Athletic Director would be okay with hiring somebody who has changed his mind so many times befoe about where he really wanted to coach. Putting a morality clause in a contract is not asking for him to mess up, but just proving that you don’t trust him with our full trust. Anytime trust is broken from the start, there could be dire implications greater than the university woud want to address, which is what is occurring here.

  32. I don’t understand how Arkansas can be shocked by Coach Petrino’s behavior when it was Arkansas that allowed a man to leave a professional football team in an unprofessional manor. It really appears that the athletic department of Arkansas put the economic value of their football team before the character of their employees. What does this say to the student athletes under Petrino? Boys were recruited by this program beliving they were going to play for a world-class football team and be further developed into men.

    As we often discuss, if a body does not regulate itself internally, it will be regulated externally. I believe it is time the NCAA put forth standards into the hiring practices of coaches. There needs to be a real gut check into whether colellegiate sports exist for monetary purposes or for the spirit of athletics.

  33. It is a rare thing for an athletic department to choose ethical legitimacy over short-term success. In sports, the mentality is “what have you done for me lately” rather than considering long-term effects. I applaud Long and the Arkansas athletic department for their treatment of this issue. The long-term effects of regaining legitimacy as an ethical program far outweigh the short-term success of wins and losses for a football season. With the recent Penn State scandal, it is clear that the lack of an ethical foundation and focus can tarnish a university and its public image. Hopefully, Long will focus on hiring a replacement with high character who can help rebuild the integrity of the program.

  34. While investigating the events surround Petrino’s firing, the AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request and obtained the coaches texting records, as he was using a University-issued phone. After reading the personal text messages that the AP made public, I couldn’t help but think that it just added insult to injury.

    Do Petrino’s actions justify the media’s questionable reporting methods? I’m familiar with a few instances in which the FOIA has been abused, but this is a case which seems to stand in stark opposition of the spirit of the law. In any profession, it seems that if the professionals’ competence can either be utilized to enforce or evade ethical decision-making.

  35. In my opinion, institutions hire individuals who accomplish goals over individuals with integrity because the institutions realize that they will achieve their earnings goals faster with unethical individuals. Individuals with very little integrity will go out of their way to accomplish goals, with little regard to virtues, values, and morals. On the other hand, individuals with integrity will be less likely to achieve a goal if it doesn’t align with their values, and the institution will then take longer to be successful. What the institutions fail to take into account is the possibility that the unethical individuals that they hire, in this case Bobby Petrino, could also be responsible for the demise of the institutions. As you mentioned Dr. Shaub, Long knew that hiring Petrino was a risk, but yet he still hired him. I believe that Long knew that it was very possible that Petrino would pull a stint that could cause the university to look bad, but didn’t know to what extent it would affect the university. Petrino seems like an individual who is blinded by his hubris and doesn’t take into consideration how his actions will affect him, his family, and university. This whole scandal is very unfortunate and could have been avoided by not hiring Petrino, but the need to have a successful football team outweighed the need to have an ethical coach.

  36. I believe AD Jeff Long has done a tremendous job handling the Bobby Petrino incident. Unfortunately, at the end of the day Razorback fans and boosters only care about wins. Consequently, if Arkansas goes 5-7 the next 3 years, those fans may be calling for Long’s termination. Why would they do that to a man who holds the virtue and morals of the program over the success on the football field? Because society will always value success over integrity. I think it is because fans of Arkansas football can all agree on the definition of success. There are so many gray areas on the topics of ethics and integrity. There are so many Arkansas fans from different backgrounds and contrasting viewpoints on ethics and morals. So why bother? It is just so much easier to root for the Razorbacks and when they win everyone is happy. When they lose, all the fans are disappointed. Professor Roach told us that we must have the courage to not tolerate it, and hold ourselves to high standards than the rest. But at the end of the day, Razorback fans cannot look at one another and say this is wrong. Something must be done. Because, how do you know the thousands of other fans even care?

  37. It has not been long since I became a fan of football, mainly NFL. I fell in love with NFL because it puts out more than just a sport. The league tries to protect the integrity of its league and its players, and also teach integrity to younger fans watching football. It enforces strict rules to the players not only on the field but also outside of the field. This effort is also extended to college football. However, despite the effort of NCAA to protect the integrity in college football, we have heard a number of shocking news in college football. Although I may be cynical, I feel like Jeff Long took an aggressive action because of the previous news in the East coast. I am not sure if Long had taken the same action if the scandal in Pennsylvania had not occurred. This also extends to the accounting industry. We are continuously being emphasized the significance of ethics for the integrity of the industry. But, as long as human beings are being human beings, there will always be few people who will chase after their self-interest.

  38. One fact that is troubling to me about this case is the method in which the coach told his NFL team players he was leaving. He did not meet in a group to tell them, does the sound familiar to our athletic director here at A&M? He called Coach Sherman to tell him he was terminated while visiting a potential recruit at home. This sounds virtually the same to me, should we be worried about our athletic director’s morals? I do not know the man but I hope that A&M is doing all we can to keep a check on our own faculty to ensure we do not become the next news headline of an ethical catastrophe, especially having our Aggie Honor Code as such an integral part of our university. I am going to pick on him alittle more and question whether he performs due diligence in the selection process of coaches. The past two coaches have had barely over a .500 record since 2003, including giving Sherman a $400,000 raise and a contract extension to fire him the next year. Our new basketball coach Billy Kennedy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a few months after being hired, now our basketball team is suffering because potential recruits do not want to play for a school where the stability of the coaching staff is in question. I hope these are all coincidental incidence for our university’s sake because such failed decisions are hurting the image and financial standing of Texas A&M.

  39. I understand the meaning behind ‘high risk, high return’ more clearly after reading about people like Petrino. I have also noticed these same high risk/low risk traits carry forward into more than just their personal life. Petrino’s personality makes him more likely to go on a fourth and one than, let’s say, A&M’s former Coach Sherman. It is these risks he took in football that allowed him to achieve record-setting seasons for Arkansas.

    I wonder if it is possible for a person to live a low-risk lifestyle and maintain a high-risk coaching strategy effectively. It is your personality that leads you to make riskier decisions in all areas of your life. So, how to you keep it contained in one, but not the other? As evident throughout history, some of the most successful people in business often strayed from the morally correct in both their personal and business lives.

    • I’ve heard it said that you spend more time at work each week than you do pursuing personal interests. The time we are awake and genuinely interacting with family/friends is maybe a little more than half of the hours we spend at work. If we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with (as we are taught in class), we are becoming like those we are with at work-not our friends and family. I think it’s important to find a work environment that encourages its employees to act in ways that you think are ethically, and socially, sound. Being surrounded with people like that would provide some accountability in the work done, and would rub off on you too.

  40. There have been several scandals in the news relating to collegiate athletics recently. It seems like Long has handled the situation relatively well, but if he knew Petrino was a risky hire, I find myself questioning the decision to bring him onboard. In retrospect, was the recent success of the program worth what has happened now? It appears that Long had almost anticipated an issue, as he worded the contract in a way that gave him an easy out. While he did “manage the risk,” the negative publicity surrounding the issue has been significant. It seems like the integrity of hires should be evaluated more strictly, and I definitely think schools need to focus on finding a healthy balance between competence and integrity in their coaching staff.

  41. Firing Petrino was obviously the right thing to do in this situation, yet I agree with several of the comments above regarding the decision to bring such a risky hire on board in the first place. It seems to me like too many of our actions regarding unethical behavior these days are in reaction to a scandal. Instead of taking action after the fact, we should be placing more emphasize on preventing any harm from happening in the first place. If Petrino had never been hired, they would not have to be rebuilding their program right now. How many scandals like this will have to take place before we realize as you stated in your article that compromising integrity for competency never works out in the long run?

  42. There are more than the obvious consequences to this story. Petrino’s actions will affect his family, the woman on the motorcycle, his players, the Arkansas athletic department, and the university as a whole. If I were one of his players, I would be upset that my chances of a potential professional career would be in jeopardy. Who knows who Arkansas will hire to replace Petrino, and how the team will perform in the coming years. His family has seen him criticized in newspapers, television, and social media. They will always live with that. And the reputation of Arkansas has been compromised by yet another athletic scandal. Yet again, the wrong ethical decision has shown us that unethical decisions are like ripples in a pond.

  43. It isn’t uncommon for college coaches or college athletes to be a risk for ruining a University’s reputation. Yet, each University allows these high risk high reward type of people to represent a big part of what the University is, athletics. College coaches each year are notorious for making the headlines in a bad way; Joe Paterno, Rick Pitino, Billy Gillispie, Gary Pinkel, Augie Garrido, etc. have all been in the newspapers recently for actions they are not too happy about. Universities do not seem to care unless it will really take a hit to their net income and then they will resort to firing. In Petrino’s case, he will certainly lose Arkansas money for his actions therefore was fired. As long as a team will make a profit, they will put up with actions of those who are “risky”.

  44. It’s certainly a good thing that the athletic director, Jeff Long, took action and fired Petrino based upon the morals clause of his contract. But how do you weigh that decision for acquiring a new head coach in the first place, especially when coming in as the new athletic director for a high profile school? There is already pressure to sign a high profile coach with a history of success for the job. So how much risk should you be willing to take? Often the most successful in a career are those with bad underlying character. But usually those with good character AND high success are locked into their current job for the long run, with their school happy to pay that type of person as the face of their team. Therefore, Long was in a tight spot, and to his credit the hire of Petrino not only increased the value of the football team but also shot them up the rankings of the polls. Thus his decision made good business sense, and also to his credit, he took action to oust Petrino as soon as it was discovered he was slipping up.

  45. Jeff Long did the right thing by firing Petrino. His behavior has severely damaged the reputation of the university and its athletics program. However, this would not have happened if Long had hired someone else for the position for Petrino’s position in the first place. Yes, Petrino was a high-profile coach that would bring a lot of attention (and hopfully success) to the university and its football team, but Long already had questions about Petrino’s morals before hiring him. He should have taken a step back from the situation and thought about what he could expect from Petrino, and how Petrino’s unethical personal decisions could affect his professional life as head coach as well. It’s foolish to think that a person’s behavior in their personal life isn’t also indicative of how they will behave in a professional setting – it all boils down to the fact that that’s what they believe and that’s their personality. Long should have hired someone with more integrity instead of just the candidate who he thought would bring his team the most win’s. What good is a great few football seasons if your entire university’s reputation is on the line?

  46. I believe that any competitive industry, sports or business, will always be concerned with the bottom line. After all, it is the most overt characteristic of a person, and it is often the characteristic that people are most concerned with. An organization will almost always take the chance of a year of a shame for the chance to have several years of success and recognition.

    For example, a coach will be extolled for his virtue and character at exactly the same time he is being told to clean out his desk following a .500 season. Any competitive professional firm will conduct itself in the same manner.

    This fosters an environment full of competent, virtuous people and competent, advantageously virtuous people. A person can only hope that the their boss is one of the competent folks that also happens to be genuinely virtuous.

    Unfortunately, the idea that businesses treat integrity as a secondary attribute is not an excuse to adapt yourself to fit with the environment. Maintaining your key principles should always come before any organization. There’s a good possibility that you may miss opportunities because of this, but can you put a cost on your own self image?

    The worst part of this is that Petrino will find more work. He is a competent coach, and he will win more games. When he begins to win a little bit, people will start to look past his faults. Mike Vick, Chris Brown, Tiger Woods, and Ray Lewis are examples of this. For goodness sake, Ray Lewis and his friends were directly connected with a fatal stabbing. All anyone will remember him for is his stellar career as one of the leagues best line backers. In fact, he does motivational speaking for colleges and highschools.

    • I agree with the last paragraph of this comment. While everyone may be bashing Petrino for his poor choices now, eventually they will be looked over and his accomplishments will outweigh his faults.. He will always have this story associated with his name, but the society we live in today will not overlook his talent because he makes questionable ethical decisions. I think that is not only a problem with Petrino, but with our society as a whole today.

  47. In retrospect, it is easy to say that Petrino never should have been hired. He had obvious character flaws and questionable integrity. However, the amount of revenue generated by division 1 football puts a lot of pressure on football programs to win now. I think this pressure to win caused Jeff Long to overlook the negative aspects of Petrino. After the whole scandal emerged, I do believe they took the right corrective actions by firing him. It would a PR nightmare to keep Petrino as head coach. However, I do get the feeling that there will be another school that will hire Petrino in the future. Willing to sacrifice integrity for wins. After all this is said and done, hopefully Arkansas will learn from this incident, and possibly hire a coach that will consistently lose to the Aggies.

  48. One of my friends who used to play football at Arkansas posted this as his face book status after Petrino was fired “Now everyone sees what i had to put up with for two years” (My friend left Arkansas after 2 years because he hated the coach). This just shows how Petrino’s behavioral problems were a lot deeper then the affair and was having an impact on the players. Good to see Arkansas didn’t sacrifice integrity for wins.

  49. I think there should be a list of things to consider prior to hiring a coach or business professional. First, their previous position should be scrutinized. Did this person leave in good standing, Why or Why not? Why are they leaving this job.
    Second, how many times have they left a job? I think this is an interesting way to look at someone’s loyalty. If they continuously leave for bigger things, then one could assume they are loyal to themselves and no one else.
    Third: Does the contract have to have clauses in order to prevent this person from purposely Harming the program. yes? then you are already preparing for disaster/scandal to occur
    Fourth: Is there more to this person then “they are good at their jobs”? They need to have empathy and additional people skills.
    So with this being said, Arkansas is at fault for hiring this coach and is at fault for the scandal that came with him. Business and schools should look at more than wins or successes when hiring someone.

  50. In NCAA sports, especially SEC football, schools will do anything to win and make money. Long’s disregard to Petrino’s high risk shows this. Of course, Long has a duty to Arkansas to bring in the best in order for them to succeed. But maybe this time, consequences should have been analyzed before Long made the decision to hire Petrino.

    In the end, I think this will most likely be ignored within a few years. The process of hiring a coach should be scrutinized more to avoid another situation like this.

  51. I’m sure that Jeff Long had to think long and hard about the decision he made. Not because he didn’t know the right thing to do, but because he was worried about the consequences of either decision. I believe that he made the right decision in firing coach Petrino and it seemed like it was a long time coming. It was almost as if Long was waiting for Petrino to mess up. Once again a college football program hired a coach with a less than stellar moral track record, but a great winning percentage. It’s hard to fault Long for that though. It’s clear that he wanted to win and playing in the toughest conference in college football, he needed a coach like Petrino to do it.

    After the scandal broke, I remember watching interviews on espn with Arkansas fans. The majority of them didn’t seem to care about what Petrino did on his own time. I remember one of them saying, “Well that has nothing to do with his performance on the football field, he shouldn’t be fired.” Hearing comments like that had to make Jeff Long’s decision that much more difficult.

    As I said, I believe Jeff Long made the right decision in firing Petrino. After weighing the consequences, he felt that it was more important to Arkansas to not have that type of leadership than to win a few football games. I’m sure Long has received both positive and negative feedback about his decision. One thing is for sure though: Mr. Long will definitely think long and hard when hiring Petrino’s replacement.

  52. It is very commendable that Jeff Long was able to make the decision that he did. With all of that money that could be made on the table he still made a courageous ethical decison. Like Kori said, most of the Arkansas fans were ready to forgive and forget for the hope of winning a National Title this year. If I was in Long’s shoes I know that it would have been tough for me to stay true to my beliefs when everyone around me was pushing me in the opposite direction.

  53. I agree with Bryan that Jeff Long made a commendable decision in the face of many fans who only cared about success on the field. This decision was also the catalyst for a 1.25 million donation to help build a facility for student athletes. The building will provide student athletes with a new dining hall, study center, and “Student-Athlete Success Center”. Aside from this gift, an existing university program will be renamed the “Jeff Long Student-Athlete Development Program” to further honor him for his courageous decision. Shirts have also been made with the phrase “INTEGRITY GOES A LONG WAY” across the front. It is clear to see that the University has done all they can in order to turn this negative situation into a positive one. Despite how next year’s season turns out for the Razorbacks, the decision Long made, sends a great signal to other schools.

  54. I agree with the students above that Long made the right decision in firing Petrino, although the methods used to hire him were questionable. Long knew that Petrino was a risk, but I believe there are risks that sometimes you have to take. Long could have been giving Petrino the benefit of the doubt, even with his past. He had clearly considered the consequences, given the contract set forth, but there was no way for Long to know that Petrino was going to have an affair with another employee, much less have an accident with her on the back of his motorcycle. Some may look down on the methods taken to obtain Petrino, but Long did the right thing in the end by firing Petrino.

  55. In the current athletic climate, Long’s stand to fire Petrino is a strong statement that he wants to win the right way. However, as you state Petrino was known to be problematic. The signs were there- leaving without personally telling the players is disgraceful in my opinion. Because of this, I do not have pity for Long being in such a tenable situation. If the following hire is a flop and Arkansas returns to their relative mediocrity of the pre-Petrino era, he may lose his job.

    It is a case of laying down with dogs; although Long eventually got up, he still got a few fleas.

  56. This is a perfect example of the fact that humans are poor calculators of consequences. I am glad that Long made the choice to fire Petrino despite the opposition, but one must seriously question whether he takes his duties seriously, considering the decision to hire Petrino in the first place. Sure, you may get a large short-term profit, but your integrity is in question. I think people underestimate the esteem people have for long-lived, honorable programs. Potential players, students, faculty, fans, and even donors look to and respect such things. The way you handle your academic program says a great deal about the kind of values you hold as a school

  57. I find it interesting how many different opinions people have of Jeff Long in the comments above. I think he made the right decision in firing Petrino, but I also do not blame Long for hiring Petrino in the first place. I am sure Long’s job also depends on the performance of the football team, and he obviously made the right choice in the sense that the football team started winning more and earning more revenue once they hired Petrino. Also, from Long’s perspective, he probably felt as if he was making a smart choice by putting all the clauses in Petrino’s contract because he probably felt the clauses would keep Petrino from his high risk behavior.

    However, as we learned in class, duties keep us from making unethical decisions more than consequences do, so even though Long had put those clauses in the contract, it was not enough to prevent Petrino from making poor decisions. I hope that Long has learned from this (and other Athletic Directors) because I am sure he thought he was making the best decision for the University when hiring Petrino. Also, from what is stated in the main entry, it seems that Petrino had been exercising poor behavior for awhile. I think a question for Long would be, “Why didn’t you fire Petrino when you first started hearing these reports about sexual harassment, etc.?” As much as I understand Long’s point of view in hiring Petrino, I think that he failed to take care of the problem before it became national news and damaged the reputation of the University.

  58. With today’s media coverage of sports, it is no surprise to me that Arkansas took a chance on Coach Petrino. Universities are in a constant shoving match for respect, and this is often accomplished through their Win-Loss record on the gridiron. When this pressure of winning is combined with the toughest divisional competition in all of college football, the SEC West, I can see why Arkansas was tired of being picked on and wanted to bring in a winning coach. While it may be easy for many of us to say Arkansas should have picked a coach with more integrity, I doubt we would be willing to be the laughing stock of SEC football for any length of time before fans become desperate.

    I’m certainly not saying that I think Coach Petrino set a good example for his student athletes, or that what he did is right, but simply that I can see why Arkansas hired him. While there, he led his team to top-ten rankings and produced wins. Unfortunately, this is what gives you national attention and highly coveted ESPN coverage, not the lives of the players your coaches change or the great things a coach does for his community. The sad reality is that they looked first and foremost for a winning football coach, and hoped he could get by with lackluster integrity during his tenure.

    While the ideal football coach candidate possesses both quality ethics and winning results, there simply aren’t enough of these coaches to go around. Many universities have to weigh their want of wins vs the ethics they desire in their coaches. Sadly, the respect and monetary gains from wins often trumps their desire to have coaches with high integrity. In this case, Arkansas adjusted their calculation and gave a higher weight to winning, thus underestimating the possible long term consequences.

  59. People tend to respond to incentives, especially short term, extrinsic ones. Arkansas obviously wanted the prestige and money that come with a winning football team, without thinking about possible long-term consequences. Until our society’s thinking shifts to preferring inward, moral satisfaction rather than monetary rewards, these ethical issues will continue to persist.

  60. I really liked and agreed with the part about Long knowing that hiring Petrino was a high-risk situation. It seems as if Long and Arkansas was more concerned with the short-term results for the athletic program rather than the respect and dignity that could be built in the long-term for the university. As an individual who constantly looks toward future results/events, it honestly terrifies me that people think considerably in the short-term rather than the overall implications.

    Also, I find it amazing that people with a past history of bad decisions and bad character are still able to ascend to higher and higher positions in society. You would think in the world we operate, these individuals, regardless of how good they are at what they do, would not be rewarded for their bad behavior.

  61. It is interesting to see how Athletic Director Jeff Long has changed in just a few years. To the common college football fan, It might have seemed like a good idea when he hired Bobby Petrino as next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, and why not? He had big time NFL experience, a solid resume, and a lot of promise. However, if you examined his character, he might not have been the best option to lead and mentor young minds. What kind of leader just leaves his team halfway through the season, and does so without personally speaking to his team face to face? Despite all this, Jeff Long only saw the possibility of winning games and championships, no matter what the risks were. Long didn’t use his best judgement when making this decision, but at least he didn’t follow that path in the future.

    Bobby Petrino’s actions were completely unethical and if that wasn’t enough, they were also illegal. Petrino used horrible judgement in making the decision to hire the young lady along with the other illegal things he committed. Petrino didn’t think of the consequences of his actions not only to himself, but also to his family, university and anyone associated with him. Probably more importantly, he didn’t think of his duties to them also. He had a duty to be a role model to his football players, and he clearly didn’t take that into account. He also had a duty to his family to represent them as good as possible as well as being faithful to his wife. Petrino was highly unethical, and needs to be adequately punished for his decisions.

    Jeff Long redeemed himself by doing the right thing and firing Petrino, despite his teams performing better than ever before. In today’s football, winning is everything and will be strived for at all costs, but it was good to see Long go against the grain and make the right decision.

  62. From the information off the news stories, I feel like Arkansas knew the type of character Petrino had from the get-go. If they could improve the football team quickly, the school directors willing to sacrifice integrity for, what seemed to them, a short period of time. I believe the contract was probably set up, so Arkansas could have a successful coach quickly, though possibly unethically, improve the football team. Then once the public knew of the unethical behavior, the school could quickly create a scapegoat out of Petrino and improve the school’s public relations. Other people must have known that special favors and bribes were happening. A football coach doesn’t have unlimited access to a school’s funds. Someone must have secondarily approved the hiring of his mistress and the $20,000 given to her. I think the SEC and news channels should look more critically into other actions of the football program and school board.

  63. This brings up an interesting though for me. How many teams care about ethical coaches or are they in it just to find a coach who can win? Obviously if a choach breaks the rules then he is a bad coach but you don’t hear much about an enethical personal life. Does it affect how a choach performs or does it only put the team in a bad light? I personally think the so called “moral clause” is just to save the team from bad publicity. How many times has a sponser pulled money from a player due to unethical behavior? They don’t care about the person. They care about making sure they aren’t perceived badly.

  64. There are two issues that come to mind when thinking about this story. The first is the issue of winning versus morality. How much risk is one willing to take in order to put some wins on that season record? Supported by the contract he made, it was obvious that Long was not oblivious to Petrino’s questionable character. Second, I find it hard to applaud Long for his decision to fire Petrino. Of course, firing him was the right thing to do, but it is the intentions of Long that I find hard to believe. Keeping Arkansas’ good name seems to be more of the underlying reason rather than to do the right thing. This only reinforces the idea of doing whatever it takes to have a successful program. Utilitariansim plays a big role in sports. I think this leads to coaches and players to be pawns in a bigger game. However, would it work any other way? I think this is a question that I simply do not have an answer to.

  65. Multiple things come to mind when reading about this story. First of all, it seems that Long knew that Petrino was an unethical person before he ever hired him. He performed a calculation and decided that the risk would be worth the reward when taking on Petrino. The fact that he left in the middle of the NFL season and merely left notes in his players lockers instead of addressing them personally shows that he did not care about these players as human beings, or that he is a coward. Second, if this was all going on and no one knew about, what else was going on in that program that people might know about? Chances are if a person is lying and cheating about one thing, they won’t have a problem lying and cheating about other things. It’s good to see that Long recognized he made a mistake and had the courage to correct it, although he should have made a better calculation to begin with. Or he should have gone with his gut and left the calculation out of it.

  66. I have a lot of respect for Arkansas’s management after they fired Petrino. While they may have made a risky hire because of his questionable character, they took the risk because he is a great coach. He came in and turned the program from a medicore SEC team to a powerhouse on the verge of taking the next step and being national champions. In today’s football environment it is all about winning. After this scandal, I was shocked to see Arkansas do what was best for their institution as a whole and terminate him. Before this news came out, Arkansas was expected to be a big contender for the national championship next year. Arkansas is taking a big risk in sacrificing the pinnacle of college football in order to stand by their values and what they believe in. In today’s world that is something that you do not see very much and I have a lot of respect for them.

  67. The Arkansas athletic director took a large risk in order to win games. They were focused strictly on the short-term goal of winning, rather than building a program based on ethical principles. They made a poor choice by hiring a coach who is know for his lack of ethical behavior, but should be held to some state of redemption by terminating him “with cause.” With the growing pressure for colleges to excel in athletics, it would have been easy for Arkansas’s management to hand down a slap on the wrist.

  68. I believe that with most CEOs, as with the hiring of Petrino, money is the overriding consideration. Companies and athletic directors will hire anyone with the skill to boost their brand/company and make them a profit. The hiring of Jeff Skilling at Enron was yet another example of the prevalence of this practice in our modern day society. In response to this incident, I believe that the football profession will have to make changes, or suffer increasing amounts of regulation from outside authorities, as the business/accounting professions did with SOX.

  69. It still always comes down to winning. Petrino did a great job with Arkansas while he was there so the question becomes, “did he build up the football program or take them back after the scandal?” I believe that Arkansas got what they needed out of Petrino in getting Arkansas football back on the map as a prominent team in the NCAA. Integrity does not trump success when it comes to college football. They trusted Petrino enough to make Arkansas a consistent contender and that is exactly what he did. I think fault sits with Petrino alone and Arkansas moves forward ready for another successful season.

  70. While many people commend Jeff Long’s decision to terminate Bobby Petrino, I don’t think he was innocent by any means. He knew Petrino’s reputation, and chose to hire someone that would get his hands dirty in order to gain success.

    The note left by Petrino in the Falcons’ locker room seems representative of his level of respect for players. In his book, Winners Never Cheat, Jon Huntsman wrote, “The measure of the individual is when his or her word is kept even when it puts the person at a disadvantage.” Petrino’s quick departure from the Atlanta Falcon’s should have been an early indicator of his character.

    Despite the red flags, Long supported Petrino, and only denounced his actions after the affair became public. If Long were a CEO, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him proclaim, “I’m not an accountant!” when questioned by the SEC.

  71. Your opening statement about society’s propensity to favor competence over integrity reminded me of Fastow’s involvement in the Enron Scandal. There was a segment in the Enron video we watched in class where Sharron Watkins was being asked to describe her impression of Fastow during her days working at the firm. I believe she remarked, “everyone knew Fastow was lacking in moral fiber” or something to that effect. I feel that comment highlights a key issue in corporate America; higher value is placed over those who will contribute to the bottom line rather then contribute to the long-term reputation of the firm. I feel those that associated and approved Fastow’s off-balance sheet could also be diagnosed with deficiancy of “moral fiber.”

  72. I believe that the Bobby Petrino’s story says something about our society today. Arkansas knew what they were getting themselves into but thought it was worth the trouble to gain value in the football in the football program. Instead of trying to work with Bobby Petrino, such as council or express the lack of tolerance in his wrong doings by not hiring him, Arkansas hired a man when needed and made it easy on themselves “to fire him if he went off the deep end”. Long took advantage of Petrino’s reputation by creating a contract that left him in complete control, which solidifies that both parties we wrong. These athletic coaches are being allowed to violate and undermine rules and the whole world just closes their eyes, which teaches our youth that values can be compromised.

    It is obvious to me that Petrino has been behaving like this and continues to do so because he has not really been “punished”. Every time he is let go he is picked back up. As a society, we need to stand together and place it upon ourselves to stand for what is right and are obligated to lay the groundwork for our youth.

  73. There are many shady aspects to this whole situation. However, one part of this story really stuck out to me. The fact that Petrino did not have the type of character or leadership quality to even face his team when he left for the Razorbacks. I feel that him not being able to have a face to face meeting with his team shows what poor character he has. I remember when I was little my parents signed me up for a soccer team and I was extremely excited to start playing, but when the season started and I realized that I would have to run up and down the field for long periods of time, my enthusiasm drained. I basically grew to loathe soccer and told my parents I wanted to quit. I asked them to tell the coach and just let me not go anymore. However, they told me if I felt so strongly about quitting that it was my responsibility to defend my feelings and I would have to tell my coach myself. I did end up quitting the soccer team, but I also learned a valuable lesson from my parents. If there are decisions in your life, career, etc. that you feel you need to make you should be willing to own up to it and stand behind it if you feel so confidently that it is the right thing to do. I think it is obvious Petrino knew he was letting people down by leaving, and maybe the decision to move to a new team was the best for Petrino, but if that were the case he should have had the character to face those he left behind wondering why.

  74. Bad decision makers tend to not think about the ones they love when making bad decisions. Just as in the Petrino fiasco, the biggest victims are the ones closest to the decison maker. Petrino left his family and university behind him to pick up the pieces of his mess, proving there was no thought toward the well being of those close to him when he decided to hop on that bike with his 25 year old girlfriend. One thing that could keep us from making the same decisions is an outward oriented mind, constantly thinking about how our actions effect others.

  75. This post left me wondering what was going through Petrino’s thoughts throughout this whole situation. What made him cross that ethical line in the first place and how long has he been up to such immoral actions? What does he think now that he has been caught and how is his family handling this? Obviously, I cannot speak from personal experience of ever being in such a position as he was, so I have no clue what it was like for him. But there had to be some guilt or feelings that he should have tried to get back on the right path. I could not imagine doing such things to my family or coworkers. This is a strong reminder that immoral actions can snowball into a enormous scandal with irreversible consequences. Petrino will have to live with the harsh consequences of his actions and asking himself, was it worth it?

  76. I agree. Arkansas knew that Petrino was a big risk but wanted to win football games so they decided to hire him anyway. Their want to win put so much focus on doing whatever they could to accomplish that they forgot the impact it would have on the culture of the university. Even though they did decided to fire him as soon as this scandal broke out but where was this during the review of hiring him among other candidates.
    In the end this scandal hurt not only the football program but the university as a whole which more people will remember this scandal than being a top ten team.

  77. It is clear that Long performed a cost-benefit analysis before making the decision to hire Petrino. The decision to put the clause into the contract was definitely pre-meditated. Yet, unfortunately, I think he miscalculated the consequences of his decision. If Long knew of Petrino’s past tendencies and he knew that Petrino didn’t highly value integrity, he should have thought about the potential damage to the reputation of Arkansas and the athletic department. Perhaps he made a decision much like Ford did in regards to their Pinto’s gas tank design. Ford valued the cost of fixing the problem more than the potential legal disputes. If Ford could have looked into the future and seen the human lives lost, immense legal sanctions, and reputation loss to the company, would they have made the same decision? If Long could’ve looked into the future would he have made the decision to hire Petrino?

  78. Jeff Long showed a strong virtue: courage. In the realm of college football, there is a wide discrepancy between prestigious programs and bottom dwellers. Petrino had taken Arkansas to the top and undoubtedly brought in millions of dollars to the university. Strong football programs have far reaching effects for a university. They catch the attention of potential new students across the entire nation, which not only brings in money but also increases the competitiveness of the academics. They lead to national exposure for your school for advertising and fundraising purposes. Long was not only firing an unethical coach; he was firing huge benefits for Arkansas as a whole. Long may have ignored the consequentialist approach because he was courageous enough to stay true to his overbearing duty of maintaining integrity at the university.

  79. I commend Long for making the right call in the end by firing Petrino. I do wonder though how the ethics and values of our athletic program will fare in the SEC where the stakes are higher. Given the recent actions of the administration with the firing of Sherman, they have made it clear that we intend to win. I can guarantee that Coach Sumlin is well aware of this. Granted, I am not saying that football coaches aren’t supposed to win football games. They definitely are. I am looking at this strictly from an ethical point of view. When you consider the track record of SEC schools, the pressure that Sumlin will feel in the face of the stiff competition, and the clear tone set by the administration, I wonder how well our athletic programs will adhere to the Aggie code of honor. I hope we can maintain our values in a less than perfect ethical environment.

  80. Your opening statement about competence trumping Integrity has troubled me while being exposed to the numerous scandals and situations in our society, and so I have done some serious thinking about this issue.

    First off I applaud Long’s decision for firing Petrino and sending a message for what the University of Arkansas really stands for. Winning is not all there is to an athletic program, these young men are looking up to individuals like Petrino to give them guidance into sculpting them into the men they are going to be, and by allowing Petrino to stay would be sending a message to these athletes as well as fans that if your a high enough performer you are untouchable.

    While listening to Mr. Burwell pondering whether or not to fire the 12 year high performing individual for unethical actions, I sat there thinking “this decision seems clear cut for me”. Justice should not be applied differently based on who it is being directed at, it should only consider the facts of the actions of these people. The fact that this guy had been with the firm for 12 years and that he was good at what he did had no weight in my decision, I looked solely at what his actions where. I wanted to ask Mr. Burwell what his decision would be if a first year staff had done the same thing, and then tell him his decision should be the same for both individuals.

  81. While I can applaud Long for firing Petrino for his actions, I do not see his reasoning behind hiring him in the first place. I understand that athletic departments are looking for wins, but what about a leader? It’s almost as if Long was using Petrino to increase the Razorbacks’ value and get them some wins. He knew that unethical behavior from Petrino was not out of the question and, in fact, should have been prepared for it. It almost made it wrong for Long to fire Petrino under the circumstances because he hired him knowing that he has participated in questionable behavior. It seems that Long was just trying to cover his tracks by firing Petrino so it seemed that the athletic department did not tolerate that behavior. But clearly Long was okay with tolerating it when he hired him in the first place.

  82. I think that a big reason that one of the main reasons that financial forms of cheating (providing benefits to players and hangers-on such AAU coaches) are often overlooked is because they are otherwise ethical actions. After all, professional players are paid, and the act of paying players in and of itself is not wrong. The reason that it is wrong in the context of college sports is because any offenders agreed not to do so and operate under the pretense that they are not doing so. I feel like one problem, then, is that we have allowed the line to blur between professionalism and amateurism. The impression that I have gotten from those who are invested in college sports is that not many people are particularly committed to the idea of amateurism in sports and that’s okay. I don’t see any moral reason why either amateurism or professionalism should be favored, but when we create a situation in which players and coaches are expected to adhere to rules, we should be very clear about what those rules are. Ultimately, some the blame in situations of cheating, where the only ethical failure is rule breaking, might have have to fall on the quality of the rules themselves, and their creators by extension.

    I realize that this comment doesn’t really apply to the Petrino case. I intended it as more of a response to your opening and ending statements, which I really latched on to. I hope that it isn’t too out of place.

    I also wanted to ask for your opinion of the Rick Pitino scandal that took place a year or two ago. The evidence was far more damning in that situation, but Pitino still has his job, and seemingly rewarded his supporters’ decision with a Final Four appearance against the eventual national champions. What do you think made that outcome different than this one?

  83. With today’s society so focused on results, it really doesn’t surprise me that corporations, universities, and other institutions compromise their values for the thought of quick success. It brings to mind Michael Milken and the junk bond market. Institutions are so blindly focused on achieving success and recognition they are willing to do most anything to get there.

    In the case of Jeff Long, I wonder if he would do it differently had he known the outcome. Would he give up two very successful seasons and almost 60% program growth knowing that he would have to fire the head coach? I think some people would see as worth it, but I would against it noting that the damage to the program is much more important. A University’s image as with a corporations brand is very important and carries a lot of weight with the public. Athletic Directors, CEO’s, and CFO’s have to do all they can to protect the image of their respective university or firm, because it is their most prized asset.

  84. In one of our ethics presentations this week a group presented about “The Ripple Effect.” How one action leads to another and in turn causes another. You questioned the rest of the organization’s moral conduct above, and it brings to light this ripple effect. When a leader chooses to push things under the rug or go against policies, it makes one wonder if his followers are doing the same. Petrino has set a bad example for those working under him and has opened a gate for further unethical actions to take place. Yes, Long has made a honorable decision to fire Petrino, but what other scandals are being covered up by this organization?

    We only found out about Petrino after it was made public by his actions, but if he didn’t crash that motorcycle, would Long have fired him if he had found out on his own? This is very similar to the Sandusky and Penn State scandal and makes you wonder if Long too would have pushed this under the rug had it not become public.

  85. Arkansas should not be suprised that this was the outcome when a coach with questionable loyalty was hired. They thought they would be immune to any scandal and something like this could never happen to them.

    Long in the end however, did handle the situation well in my opinion. By going against what the board and boosters may have wanted and fired Petrino. It demonstrates how it is not ever too late to correct your mistakes no matter how far invested you are in them. Now is Long’s time to shine through as a leader and search for a new coach with a higher level of integrity.

  86. Throughout our lives we’ll be forced to make decisions with different risk/reward factors. Long’s initial decision to hire Petrino most definitely took into consideration the risks associated with the coach, or else the contract would’ve been drafted differently. Although no one could predict just how bad things would turn out, Long knew what he was getting himself into and for a while his decision paid dividends. Long wanted to produce wins for Arkansas because they were tired of losing, and he accomplished this through hiring a “loose-cannon” coach. Sometimes you have to give a little bit in order to get what you want, and it appears that’s exactly what happened here. It’s too bad that things turned out the way they did, but as someone here already posted, a full-package coach with a decent head on his shoulders and a winning game plan is hard to find. There are times when you have to settle for second best because no other option is reasonably feasible, and that’s alright, that’s life. It’s just unfortunate for Arkansas that all of the risk associated with their coach blew up in their face at once. Hopefully they will learn something from this and put it behind them sooner than later, allowing the healing process to begin.

  87. By the time Petrino became head coach at Arkansas, he had shaped his morals as a person. I am certain a contract would not alter this thinking.

    My concern in this story is not the Arkansas football program, or the men who made questionable decisions, but the families. How is Petrino to mentor his children now? What moral ground does he have to walk on?

    My religious beliefs shape the person I am today. Where the laws have holes, my faith has none. These ideals have been forged into me throughout my childhood through involved parents. Though the media of course will focus on the retribution faced by the Arkansas program, I think the greater tragedy is a father who failed to lead his family.

  88. It’s definitely a fine line that almost all universities find themselves on – the desire to earn revenue and also promote their brand. Considering how big NCAA football is in our culture, it doesn’t get any easier. More often than not you see individuals and universities making consequentialist decisions, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, put decision makers in an odd position – they must weigh the future benefit/harm of potentially making an unethical choice, a decision that reflects upon thousands of alumni and the university itself. If they determine that the potential good outweighed the bad for keeping Petrino around, would they be seen as poor decision makers; or would they be looking out for “the greater good”?

  89. I remember the Atlanta Falcons incident pretty vividly. Everyone was in awe that someone didn’t have the guts to at least say bye to all the players he had coached for the past few months. It was interesting to see your research on the Petrino contract and how Long structured it for his benefit, which he obviously feels relieved that he did it in the first place.

    Even though the Atlanta Falcons incident was a huge red flag, I look more to how Petrino behaved on the sidelines as a representation of his character. After watching several Arkansas football games over the years, it was clear Petrino was a great football coach. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any coach in my years of watching sports (and I watch a lot of sports) have such a temper on the sidelines. It’s amazing to me that players actually wanted to go play for him. Although a temper doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an unethical person, ripping into one of your own players on the sidelines probably isn’t the most virtuous thing to do. After knowing a lot more about his character after the crash, it goes to show that his temper was just the tip of the iceberg.

  90. This was something I did not see coming because for the most part when someone who works in a sport that makes a large amount of revenue they usually receive a slap on the wrist for their actions. The AD using the morality clause shows that this AD is different than most AD’s in that his moral compass is pointing the the proper direction. Petrino lied to his AD and has a history of unethical behavior so it seemed that Petrino had to go. The AD had the courage to do the right thing and that is something you rarely get to see in the sports world. I applaud his courage and morality.

  91. There are two stories within this debacle. One is obviously the poor choices of Bobby, but the other is the seemingly irrational decision of Long to hire Bobby in the first place.

    Just reading another blog on pride, it looks like Petrino was so full of pride he thought he could do whatever he wanted and still keep his life in order. He should have take a lesson from Skilling and realized that that rarely happens. The wake of destruction left by Petrino is a sad story, but he did get what he deserved in the end.

    Long’s story is a bit more understandable and easier to rationalize. There was a chance that everything would work out and Petrino wouldn’t cause any major problems for Arkansas. This was the risk Long took in hiring a man like Petrino with the history he already had. When making bets I think a good rule of thumb, is to decide whether I can live with the consequences if the bet is lost. The PR nightmare and reputation damage inflicted upon Arkansas is not worth the success Petrino had during his tenure.

  92. With his reputation and the events surrounding his hiring I cannot say that I was surprised when this first happened. Even though he was performing great as a coach, i think his character far outweighed his career accomplishments. Arkansas obviously knew what they were getting into, and based off how they remained standing behind him they had expected this to happen. I believe this was wrong of the boosters and board. What kind of message is the school sending by keeping someone like this around and even hiring them in the first place?

  93. The decision by the AD to fire Petrino reminds me of the one of the situations Mike Burwell discussed in class. The situation I’m referring to is the one about the partner taking the client to the “gentlemen’s club” and running it through his expense account. One of the dilemmas Mr. Burwell spoke about was whether or not to fire this partner to ensure the PWC name was not tarnished. I think this was one of Mr. Long’s main concerns when deciding to fire Petrino. I think he had to do what was best for The University of Arkansas, the football team, and the SEC. By enforcing the rules, and showing this type of behavior would not be tolerated, I think he did the right thing to ensure the integrity of the Arkansas brand.

  94. I believe humility is underrated in our society. People get so lost in their own ambition that they fall victim to hubris. Sun Tzu’s Art of War describes leadership as the balance between 5 virtues: intelligence, credibility, humaneness, courage, and discipline. Petrino may have demonstrated intelligence through his proficiency, developed credibility and trust as a great coach, showed courage and decisiveness on the football field, and built up a strong, disciplined team…but he has clearly no humaneness. Lacking this one trait, which I associate with humility, has made him a terrible leader and led to destructive consequences. Humaneness is respecting those with whom a person interacts, which Petrino has failed to do on many levels.

    This goes to show that a desirable leader is not the person with insane amounts of courage, clear technical proficiency, or a humble personality…it is the all-around man or woman who has found a balance among all of these traits. In my opinion, “high-risk” means unbalanced, and Petrino should never have been hired.

  95. I have to say Mr. Long is a bad calculator. A 59% increase in the value of the Razorback football program was a big accomplishment, but when compared to the detriment caused by Mr. Petrino’s unethical behavior, the increased value really was not that much. Mr. Long either underestimated the probability of Mr. Petrino having another unethical practice or underestimated the potential loss caused by such practice. As the athletic director, Mr. Long failed to act in the interest of Razorbacks by hiring a ticking time bomb. I believe if a vote was taken regarding hiring Mr. Petrino, most Razorbacks would say no.

  96. I think this ties nicely to the saying “what goes around comes around”. All too often people cheat to get ahead in life, disregarding the feelings of others in their wake. As Petrino has demonstrated, he was willing to use his prestige and power to gain what he desired most. Although he had cheated his way into success, employment, and relationships he is now without all three. His former unethical decisions finally caught up to him as he has tarnished his reputation permanently. Similar to the cases we have discussed in class, the bad choices you make today will ultimately come back to haunt you in the future.

  97. In my opinion, college-level athletics are deeply flawed. The NCAA has always preached about how college athletics are supposed to be part of some storied tradition, and the coaches and players are playing for pride. When it comes down to it, college athletics (especially football) is essentially part of the business world. People do whatever it takes to come out ahead, whether that means hiring a coach with questionable ethics or paying students to come play for certain universities. Everyone wants to win and will do whatever is deemed necessary to come out ahead.

  98. Perhaps it is the skeptic in me, but I have a hard time believing that Long made the decision to terminate Petrino’s contract due simply to altruistic motives. Anyone who has followed division 1 college football for a decent period of time knows that, in most cases, money triumphs over integrity, especially in the SEC. When researching this incident I ran across an article that stated that when Long was notified of the incident, he and several members of the Arkansas Board of Trustees saw it as an opportunity to renegoiate Petrino’s contract, and retain him as head coach at a bargin price. This situation seems far more likely to me, but the fact remains that Petrino was fired and the probability of the public ever fully knowing what happened behind closed doors is extremely slim. This led me to consider the following question: do decisions which appear to be ethical, remain ethical, even if the motive behind the decision is unethical? Personally, I believe it is the motive behind an action and not the action itself that makes a decision ethical. If the version of the story that I read is correct, I believe Arkansas is in for a long journey because ultimately true character shines through all facades. If Long made the decision to terminate Petrino based on a cost/benefit analysis, his unethical decision making will become a pattern; a pattern we may be seeing unfold before our eyes. One name rumored to be under consideration for the head coaching job, former USC head coach: Pete Carroll.

  99. In athletics the “W” means everything. A lot of times coaches and athletes are overwhelmed with pressure to show results. It took a lot of courage for Long to fire Petrino because he knew the chances of winning games would become harder without him. He stepped up as a leader and showed the public that the school’s reputation was more important than winning football games. I think that the majority of people stand behind Long in his decision to fire Petrino. I believe we can learn from this story that the way we live our personal lives can have damaging effects to our career and coworkers. We need to remember that it “takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” –Warren Buffet-

  100. This is a pretty good example we had in class from one of the ethics group presentation. Their presentation stressed “what would you do to win.” The Arkansas fans still chanted for him to be let off with no repercussions even though they knew the situation and knew the unethical things he was involved in. It really shows what the Arkansas fans will tolerate to get that “W” on Saturdays.

  101. I think this story says a lot about Long’s character. As people have previously stated, it took a ton of courage to fire the man who was bringing home all the wins. When I first heard this story, I honestly thought they would just give him a slap on the hand because I have come to expect that from society. Therefore, it was refreshing to see someone act ethically even though in the short-term the team will hurt.

    I also agree with the comment about being “reasonably skeptical about rules being followed in other areas of the football program.” It is hard to believe that he was only disobeying rules in this one case. I would not be surprised if more information of misconduct is released as the investigation continues.

  102. This goes to show that too often do we allow external pressures to control our moral character. It is easy to determine who a person is without strenuous factors. However, they say the best way to determine a mans character is to give him power, as this will allow someones true moral compass to come to light. Often we wonder what we could do to prevent things from this to occur. However, perhaps the price of freedom and control over our own lives is to tolerate isolated incidents such as this to occur ever so often.

  103. Dr. Shaub, I really like the quote by Adam Smith at the end. I agree that many times the “envied situation” and virtue lie in opposite directions. I think the problem is seeking success and fortune. Our happiness and success should not revolve around money. I think one big problem with society is that we allow success and money to drive our every move. The athletic director knew that Petrino was a high risk, high reward kind of coach. But in his mind the reward of a famous program, a good reputation as director, and definitely monetary reward drove him to overlook some of the risks. This oversight ultimately did just the opposite of what the athletic director was hoping. If we were to let our virtues and morals be the conductors of our lives then we would see greater successes than imaginable. Sure, some may not be as wealthy, but many people would leave a legacy of honesty, trust, and love as opposed to scandal, lies, and greed. To me, leaving a good legacy is far more successful than acquiring all the “envied situations” that the world can offer. Maybe we should take a step back and determine what success really means.

  104. As auditors, it is our duty to have both competence and integrity. However, even we struggle sometimes with reconciling the two. With the constant pressures of meeting deadlines and client expectations, it can be easy to lose sight of the end goal of protecting the interests of the shareholders. It wasn’t easy for Jeff Long to make the decision that he did, but it speaks volumes about his own ethics that he was able to take into account Petrino’s integrity as well as his competence before ultimately deciding that his moral shortfalls outweighed his professional successes.

  105. It appears that Mr. Long is another victim of bad decision making for short term gains. There is no way that Mr. Long couldn’t see all the red flags going up for Mr. Petrino. The way Mr. Petrino communicated to the Atlanta Falcons that he was taking another job really shows the type of character he has. That is just really, really sad. I understand that Mr. Long wanted his team to be more successful, however, was it really worth hiring a coach with such flawed character? Bobby Petrino has proven over and over that he is not walking down the path of virtue. I realize there is a lot of pressure to win these days, but I don’t think ruining a University’s reputation in the process of doing so is the way to go. Why not dig a little deeper for a coach that can win that has a moral compass? I think it would have saved Mr. Long a lot of headache in the end.

  106. This story is kind of interesting. Patrino was absolutely a big liar. As a coach, he was coaching at 3 different places in the span of 3 years. He was really unqualified. And after the accident on April 1st. He was still lying again and again. In his world, all he saw was only himself’s interest and could override all the rule had been set. Everyone could tell that he was unbelievable and unreliable. So here comes the most interesting part. Long knew well that Patrino had these problems in his characteristics, but he still chose Patrino to be the coach and even wrote a clause into the contract about Patrino’s morality. Actually, I didn’t figure out why was that. Because that seemed so funny and impossible to happen. I thought that morality is something one cannot regulate with some clauses in the contract. Integrity is a virtue that comes from oneself’s inside. No one could become a intergrity one suddenly just because he or she signs a contract that related to his or herself’s interest and asks them to be that kind of person. We all can see what will happen to Patrino. So I think no matter what kind of job I will take in the future, I will stay integrity to everyone.

  107. I believe that Long made the right decisions for Arkansas by hiring Petrino. You look at sports teams these days and if they don’t win a championship in 3-5 years, people wonder what needs to be changed. A perfect example is Les Miles and LSU. Long hired Petrino not based on his ethical behavior but instead his coaching success. Clearly they needed Petrino as you can see how bad they did this year. I wonder if this is how the business world will turn? Are companies going to forego ethical behavior for short team results, just as Long did? I hope not. I hope that people can learn from Long’s decisions and continue to put ethics back in the hiring decision.

    • I agree with Jimmy that Long didn’t make a poor decision in hiring Petrino. Long simply did his job in hiring a football coach that could take Arkansas to new heights in the most competitive conference in college football. You could even say he did a good job hedging his risk by making sure the phrasing of the contract gave the school some recourse if Petrino didn’t pan out as they liked. This said, humans are bad calculators and they cannot predict the future. Long seemed to have made wise calculations in hiring Petrino, but who could have possibly imagined that such a scandal would arise? It is a shame that someone with great ability at his craft (Petrino) lacked that much integrity. It’s also a shame that his actions caused repercussions that affected so many at the university.

  108. I have to wonder what message that situations such as this one send to the “student” athletes involved. Although they are expected to provide their services and labor for free, must abide by an incredibly detailed set of rules set by their university and the NCAA, and face no guarantee of any payoff for their collegiate career, athletic departments find it perfectly acceptable to induce coaches to break contracts and recruit using methods that are always pushing accepted boundaries.

    To me cases like this have to be expected when you hire coaches (or executives) with a history of dishonesty and disloyalty. If you choose to hire something without morals then you reap what you sow.

  109. One of the classes I’m currently in touts that technical competence will carry you for about the first ten years of your career, and after that, wisdom is the number one asset one can have at his or her disposal. I tend to agree with this perspective, but it is clear that Mr. Petrino had, or at least displayed, no wisdom about which he approached life. He was haphazardly using his technical competence at the most lucrative sport in the USA as a source of power over others, and giving no second thoughts about who might be hurt in the process.

    “A tiger can’t change his stripes,” so I hope this is a lesson to Jeff Long and others in charge of hiring, whether in football or other business endeavors, that someone with a past record of questionable decision making is likely to do nothing but continue on that path unless major reform has been undertaken.

  110. Mr. Petrino’s actions were embarrassing not only for himself and his football program, but the university as a whole. Football has become such big part of the American culture. There is so much pressure on the players and coaches who are more and more in the spotlight and unfortunately, not all of the handle the attention very well. If football is a company and the coach is the CEO, then the fans and alumni are the shareholders. After this incident, how many alumni are pulling their funding from the program? How many future recruits, or assets, is this program going to miss out on? Mr. Petrino’s decisions could have a lasting impact on this program. As several other students have mentioned in their comments, Jeff Long chose an option that would bring short-term benefits and now he is paying the price.

  111. It seems to me that we can apply a similar concept to ourselves; what dubious actions do we allow ourselves to take because they seem to make our lives a little better?

    I think most of us allow oursleves to “cheat” a little bit in order to further our own interests, and it doesn’t take long for a small avoidance of truth to turn into an outright lie. The “road to virtue” is not an easy path to take.

    Dr. Shaub has told us several times that it takes courage to maintain ethically upright conduct; it seems that it also takes vigilance.

    • It seems what you are getting at with these observations is the “slippery slope” we have consistently heard of throughout the past few weeks. It is clear that a small, bad decision can turn into outright moral fallout, as you have pointed out.

      A question that I have is how can we see when we start to diverge onto the road to fortune if it seems to be such small decisions that maneuver us there? I hope that someday we find these small ethical dilemmas are not as grey as they can seem from an outside perspective.

  112. I think this shows true courage for Arkansas to let him go. If they would have kept Petrino on as the coach then what message would this have sent to the students? Obviously, the message would not be good. Although this could have and may still have drastic effects on the football team’s performance and ultimately in revenue, Arkansas did the right thing and put ethics above both money and performance. Even though they may suffer in the short run, an ethical program is the only program that will survive the long-run.

  113. Fantastic example and application to both your ethics course and ethics in general. In my opinion it took longer for them to let him go then it should have, but ultimately the right decision was made. No longer should the razorbacks be tainted by the biased and unmoral decisions of Petrino.

  114. I’d first like to note that it didn’t take long for the Arkansas football program to come crashing down. This year was a letdown by any standards for a program that had achieved so much so quickly. It’s unfortunate that such a successful coach could repeatedly fail to act ethically. This blog post makes me appreciate how fortunate we have been with Coach Sherman and now Coach Sumlin – two excellent role models for our student-athletes. I agree that as the athletic director, you have no choice but to let Coach Paterno go. When he was hired, the AD vouched for Paterno, and now his reputation is tainted as well. I am sure he is extremely embarrassed.

    I recognize that quote from class on Tuesday… I am finding in the business world, the paths to fortune and ethics are very often separate. In the case of Andy Fastow and other top executives, circumvention of GAAP is not the appropriate road to increased compensation. For auditors working late nights during busy season, shortcuts are not the right path. Coach Sherman preached this message and I believe he ran one of the most honest football programs in the country. He emphasized hard work and integrity in achieving goals.

  115. It’s been over a year since this train wreck transpired, but even then I hadn’t heard anything about the A.D., the structure of the contract, and the complexities of the decision to fire Petrino. I’m glad your post focused on his actions.

    Long could have decided that the monetary and performance-based benefits of keeping Petrino in the fold outweighed the bad publicity and potentially marred school reputation. Many Razorback fans likely would have supported the decision (as would many other rabid, tribalistic college football fans, SEC or otherwise). When former CIA director David Petraeus was outed for infidelity last November, the need for moral character in highly-skilled positions was hotly debated. While the factors in Petraeus’s resignation were indubitably political, it’s good in a way to see that integrity is still held with at least some esteem in places like Little Rock and Washington D.C.

  116. I think most business today function as cost and benefit calculators on every aspect of their business. If there is a potential for high profits, they tend to ignore integrity and follow what seems best for the business. The Ford Pinto’s case is a perfect example. The company saw their profits as more important than honesty. Society had to paid the price and many lives were lost to the dysfunction. This shows how egocentric businesses are. Because of this, we need control from regulatory agencies. If we would really value integrity, we wouldn’t need the PCAOB or the many laws that govern today’s businesses. In order to eliminate many of the potential problems, we adopt tougher punishments so unethical people think twice before making a bad decision. In the case of Petrino, it is not easy to solve this type of problems. Like you mentioned, his actions were not illegal but definitely unethical. As a result, he damaged the university’s reputation. I am sure that Arkansas was well aware of this risk. Making the right ethical decision is not always easy. It is our values that determine if we would do the right thing or not. I always try to focus on the intrinsic rather than the extrinsic material rewards. If we feel good on the inside by doing the right thing, we will live a better life.

  117. I think Long made the right decision in firing Petrino. Not only can a coach say a lot about a program but a college coach is a role model for the students of that school. If you tolerate a coach with low morals then you’re teaching your students to tolerate the same things in their lives. The type of students that come out of a college say a lot about a school. That’s why A&M has such a high reputation. Because people see the integrity the people who graduate have. Yes Arkansas Football has an obligation to make money. But it also has an obligation to uphold the integrity of the school they were on their jerseys.

  118. Dr. Dr. Shaub,

    Sometimes this situation makes me ponder the question. Do you think there is a possibility that Long knowing Petrino might have not been very ethical, thought he might be able to change his ways? After hearing Helen Sharky speak the other week, it made me wonder if people ever reach the point of no return to be ethical again? Perhaps Long was gullible and fell into the trap thinking he would be able to change Pertino. It just brings up a lot of questions for me personally, maybe boards hire risky CEO’s with the faith that in a better environment they can be changed. Or perhaps is was only for the short term gain, I’m not for sure. Something inside of me wants to believe people can change to become more ethical.

  119. I think this is a classic example of the trade off between the short-run and the long-run. When Petrino was hired, Arkansas knew they were taking a risk. However, they determined that the potential short term benefits (more wins, more buzz around the program, more revenue, etc.) would outweigh the risks the university was taking. This was a calculation, and ultimately they ended up wrong. While Arkansas did enjoy a few successful football seasons, they are now stuck cleaning up the mess that Petrino left behind. It is hard to say what would have happened had Arkansas originally hired a candidate who was not a character risk to be its head football coach. Perhaps integrity would have been more of a focal point of the program, and perhaps the same results could have been both obtained and sustained. One thing is certain however; they will have to pay for the choice they made for the foreseeable future.

  120. This situation is all about risk. In today’s society, we are all inclined to take the big risks, to win the big rewards, but that may be our biggest downfall. Take the previous article you wrote about Mike Sherman, a man who was very dependable and ethical on and off the field. He coaches for more than just the numbers and records, he coaches for the players. Arkansas hired a coach, who they knew was going to explode at some point or another, and they may have slightly increased their records, but overall they are still the bottom of the pack in the SEC. Texas A&M hired a coach who was a more sound decision and a more long-term reward for the program. Although he may have left, he left his mark and we now have one of the most talked about football programs in the nation, a Heisman winner, and countless Aggies who were just drafted into the NFL. Maybe Arkansas needs to reexamine their priorities and learn that long-term goals have their advantages also.

  121. It is interesting that Bobby Petrino has now been hired as the new head coach at Western Kentucky University. Why do you hire a coach that is such a high risk and who has been involved in such a large scandal? Yes, it seems that Western Kentucky University has taken appropriate measures to protect themselves: Petrino signed a four-year contract with a salary of only $850,000 annually and has agreed to re-pay the university $1.2 million if he leaves during that contract. Why do teams continue to hire Bobby Petrino? Because he wins games. There is no denying he is a great coach, however, how does this make your university look? I feel that no matter what state the Texas A&M football program is in, we would hopefully never venture as far as to hire a football coach like Bobby Petrino.

  122. Your analysis of the Petrion hiring to Arkansas is spot on, I remember it being very controversial at the time, knowing that he was the kind of guy who do anything and step on anybody to advance his career. This calculated risk made sense for an Arkansas program that was struggling for the past decade or so. They looked at Petrino and saw he had success at every position prior (except for his brief NFL stint). Knowing how the coaching situation ended, and the stain it left on the Arkansas program, I wonder if Jeff Long regrets his hire? The year after Petrino’s firing, Arkansas had, arguably, their worst year ever. However, this led to the hiring of Bret Bielema (former Wisconsin head coach) who is widely respected (unlike Petrino) and who has seen immense success in the recent past. Overall, if I had to guess I would bet Jeff Long would do it all again though.

  123. Unfortunately, it seems like the ethics in place in college football have bent the knee to market pressures of having a successful football program. In the end, college football programs require only a head coach that wins not necessarily a coach that lives as an example to his team. While it is easy for fans of the game to point and blame programs such as Arkansas or Penn State for allowing their football programs to be exceptions to general rules, it is really the fans fault. As fans, we demand a winning football team far more feverishly than we demand an ethical football coach. It is the university president and board of regent’s duty to act as agents for the current and former students of Texas A&M. When those current and former students value winning over ethics, that attitude pervades into the whole athletic programs and causes issues like those you discussed at Arkansas.

    • Andrew,
      I love how you point out that the football programs have bent the knee to market pressures. It’s a perfect analogy of managers bending the knee to market pressures and adjusting earnings to meet shareholder’s expectations. unfortunately, people have great difficulty choosing long term effects over short term. Hopefully, in my career I can see farther ahead than the path that is directly in front of me.

  124. I think that the Smith quote propels me all the more towards not pursuing “success” as it is most often defined by our society. The path of virtue only diverges with the path to wealth as it is measured in gold and silver. I hope that the wealth I desire to accumulate in my life is very much along the path of virtue.

    Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
    Matthew 7:13-14

  125. I think thank often times football programs at universities that bring in a lot of money get a special treatment. These institutions should remember that their primary goal is educating students and making them better human beings. When administrators such as Jeff Long make these key decisions, they are educating students too by teaching them ethics and morals precede football rankings and money. Saying that you’d make the right choice in a tough situation is easy but when put to test, a lot of people fail. Kudos to Jeff Long indeed for setting the record straight.

  126. I believe this article brings to a light a very interesting topic. It does seem like a highly prevalent issue in the realm of college and professional sports. Petrino did fail his duty in his role in the program by violating the moral code of the contract and it was right for Long to fire him. I believe Long calculated the consequences of the situation effectively. Damage had been done to the schools reputation, and he chose to follow through with his intended actions and do what had to be done, even though it may have hurt his reputation from hiring Petrino initially.


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