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College football notes: Arizona fires Rich Rodriguez amid allegations

Arizona has fired football coach Rich Rodriguez after a former employee’s allegations of sexual harassment. (John Miller / AP)
Arizona has fired football coach Rich Rodriguez after a former employee’s allegations of sexual harassment. (John Miller / AP)

Arizona has 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 Tucson Daily Star revealed the notice of claim on 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 that 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, 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.

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.

Snyder, 78, returning for another season

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder will be back on the sideline next season.

The 78-year-old coach had been mulling his future since the Wildcats beat UCLA in the Cactus Bowl last week. Snyder ultimately announced in a brief statement that he would return, ending growing speculation in some circles that he might retire for a second time.

Auburn tailback headed to draft

Auburn tailback and Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year Kerryon Johnson has decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Johnson ran for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns this season despite missing two games with an injury.

The biggest prospect on UCLA’s roster is headed to the NFL. Kolton Miller, a 6-foot-8, 310-pound left tackle who completed his junior season last week with UCLA’s loss to Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl, has signed with Octagon, the sports agency announced.

… Oregon State running back Ryan Nall has decided to declare for the NFL draft with a year of eligibility remaining. Nall rushed for 2,216 yards during his career, ranked eighth on the Beavers’ career list. He ran for 24 touchdowns (seventh) and had nine 100-yard rushing games (seventh).

QB Thorson’s playing future in doubt

Clayton Thorson, the winningest quarterback in Northwestern history has a torn ACL that throws his college career and NFL timeline up in the air, the Chicago Tribune has learned. Thorson got carted off Friday in the Music City Bowl after making a 24-yard catch on a trick play.

Former Beavers coach Andersen joins Utes

Utah hired former Oregon State coach Gary Andersen as an associate head coach and defensive assistant. Andersen was the defensive coordinator at Utah under coach Kyle Whittingham from 2005-08 before leaving to take lead jobs at Utah State, Wisconsin and Oregon State. He surprisingly stepped down in early October after a 1-5 start during his third season with the Beavers.