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College Coaching Comebacks Petrino and Pearl Get Second Chances: The Moral(s) of the Story

College football coach Bobby Petrino has a seemingly magic touch for turning his teams into winners—and cash cows for their Universities. While recognized for his impressive coaching record, Petrino might be even better remembered for the extra-marital affair he reportedly engaged in while serving as head coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2012, and the fact that he reportedly hired his mistress as the student athletic development coordinator, a university employee who directly reported to Petrino. Though Petrino was terminated for cause after news of the affair and his favoritism broke out, the Louisville Cardinals eagerly rehired Petrino in January when their head coaching position opened up.

Petrino is not the only coach whose success on the field and as a source of much-needed economic support has proved irresistible to college athletic programs, despite their less-than-sterling past personal behavior.

In this article, Loeb & Loeb partner Brian Socolow uses Petrino’s story as a backdrop for discussing the purpose and negotiation of morals clauses in athletic contracts in attempt to prevent situations in which programs are embarrassed by, or lose money and support, due to less-than-upstanding conduct.