FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — The former mistress of Bobby Petrino was hired over 158 other applicants after a fast-tracked interview process that athletic director Jeff Long requested at the behest of the now-fired coach, according to a review of university personnel documents by The Associated Press.
Jessica Dorrell submitted a single-page resume expressing her interest in becoming the football program's student-athlete development coordinator job. She was among three finalists interviewed and was hired by Petrino in late March at a salary of nearly $56,000.
The other two finalists listed specific football experience as required by the job posting, while Dorrell did not, according to the review of more than 500 pages of documents released by the university this week under Freedom of Information Act requests.
Petrino was fired this week for not disclosing their affair — a conflict of interest — and she has been put on paid leave.
The job listing was posted on March 4 and interviews cannot begin for 30 days under an affirmative action policy. Five days later, Long wrote to Danielle Wood, the assistant director of affirmative action at Arkansas, asking for the interview process to begin earlier.
Wood on March 12 asked Carrie DeBriyn, the human resources manager in the Arkansas athletics department, why the variance was needed.
"Coach Petrino would like to request to interview early due to needing a Player Development Coordinator as quickly as possible," DeBriyn wrote back. "Fantasy Football Camp preparation, Red White Game preparation and all recruiting coordination is falling short due to not having this position filled."
Wood approved the request 47 minutes later, according to the documents — more than an hour after the itinerary for Dorrell shows her meetings beginning at the football complex with director of football operations Mark Robinson. The meetings began at 9:30 a.m. and ran through at least 1:30 p.m. and then, according to a university flight manifest, Petrino and Dorrell joined three others for a flight to Harlingen, Texas.
Long was not available for comment Friday on whether Arkansas jumped the gun on starting the interviews. He has acknowledged the school did not follow its normal affirmative action hiring policy.
The other two finalists for the job — Tiffany Fields and Ben Wilkerson — both listed football experience on their resumes while Dorrell touted her skills in growing donations working for the Razorback Foundation. All three finalists listed master's degrees on their resumes, while only Fields submitted a cover letter.
The job listing's minimum qualifications include two years of "prior experience within a football program." Dorrell is a former Razorbacks volleyball player, while Fields is an Arkansas recruiting assistant who noted that she has handled football camps and communicated with football recruits. She listed Petrino among her references.
Wilkerson is a former NFL player — he noted that he played under Petrino during his 13-game stint with the Atlanta Falcons — and was a four-year starter at LSU. Now an assistant at Grambling State, he told SI.com: "Of course I interviewed for the position, but I'd rather not discuss it because of the whole thing ... I'm starting a new job now and that's my focal point."
Wilkerson was brought in from Baton Rouge, La., for interviews on March 13 while Fields interviewed for little more than an hour on March 15.
Four days later, Long requested another variance, this time to hire a candidate immediately, and included a letter from Petrino.
"I would like to offer to this candidate," Petrino wrote. "Out of the candidates, she had the best experience and we felt like she would be the best fit for this position."
The request was approved the next day, on March 20, and Dorrell was hired on March 28.