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Ex-Arizona Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez denies sexual assault claim

Former Arizona Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez says his former administrative assistant is spinning a “sensationalized tale.” (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Former Arizona Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez says his former administrative assistant is spinning a “sensationalized tale.” (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
By Ralph D. Russo Associated Press

Former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez says a claim by his former administrative assistant seeking $7.5 million for sexual harassment is a “sensationalized tale” created to extort him.

His attorneys filed a response to the attorney general of Arizona on Monday.

Rodriguez was fired by Arizona on Jan. 2 after the school investigated but could not substantiate the allegations.

The woman contends that while working for Rodriguez she was forced to cover up the coach’s extramarital affair. She also claimed instances when he inappropriately touched her, tried to kiss her and made inappropriate comments. The woman filed a second Notice of Claim for $8.5 million in January, naming the University of Arizona and saying the school was liable for Rodriguez’s conduct.

Rodriguez said in his response the woman and her husband were trying to use her knowledge of his affair to extort him and his wife for months, and provided a detailed rebuttal to the claims. Rodriguez has admitted to the extramarital affair. The response also notes that Rodriguez’s wife, Rita, is improperly named as a defendant because she was neither the woman’s supervisor nor a public employee.

The woman was hired by Rodriguez when he took over as head coach of Arizona in 2012. The woman’s name is included in the legal claim, but The Associated Press generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct. Rodriguez went 43-35 at the school, including 7-6 last season. Athletic director Dave Heeke and university president Robert Robbins said that while the school could not substantiate the former administrative assistant’s claims against Rodriguez, an internal investigation found “information, both before and during the investigation, which caused it to be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program.”

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