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Arizona fires ex-West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez amid hostile workplace claim

| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 11:27 p.m.
Arizona fired coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday night.
Arizona fired coach Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday night.

Arizona fired football coach Rich Rodriguez after a notice of claim was filed with the state attorney general's office alleging he ran a hostile workplace.

The Arizona Daily Star revealed the notice of claim Tuesday after making a public-records request. The paper said the claim was filed last Thursday by a former employee. A notice of claim is a legal document that signals a lawsuit will be filed.

The Daily Star reported the notice was filed after the University's Office of Institutional Equity retained outside counsel to investigate allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee. The investigation, which concluded last week, did not find enough to fire Rodriguez — a former West Virginia coach — but the university became concerned with the "climate and direction" of the program.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke announced Rodriguez's firing in a statement issued by the school and said the separation terms of his contract will be honored.

"After conducting a thorough evaluation of our football program and its leadership, both on and off the field, president Robbins and I feel it is in the best interest of the University of Arizona and our athletics department to go in a new direction," Heeke said. "We'll move through the coaching search in an effort to identify a head coach that will build a solid foundation for our program and create an identity of Arizona football that the university, Tucson and southern Arizona communities can be proud of. We're excited about the future of our football program and we look forward to introducing our new head coach at the completion of the search process."

Rodriguez arrived in Tucson after an ugly split with Michigan, where he coached for three seasons. He had an immediate impact on the Wildcats, leading them to four straight bowl games.

Arizona took a step back last season, losing eight straight games while finishing 3-9. The Wildcats were one of college football's more surprising teams this season after opening 6-2. They fell flat after that, losing four of their final five, including a 38-35 setback against Purdue in the Holiday Bowl.

Rodriguez was 43-39 in six seasons at Arizona.

In August, Creative Artists Agency, which represented him until 2015, sued Rodriguez on claims he owed it more than $230,000 in past-due fees.

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