Friend: Jessica Dorrell 'in safe mode'

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long made it perfectly clear what he expects from his staff as he put coach Bobby Petrino on leave for keeping him in the dark about a sordid-looking relationship with a female employee.

What wasn't as certain is how he's handling the fallout for Jessica Dorrell, the 25-year-old former Arkansas volleyball player and current Razorback Foundation fundraiser who a friend says isn't returning phone calls and was operating "in safe mode."

"We feel like we have to do all we can right now to protect her," said the friend, who also played volleyball at Arkansas and spoke on condition of anonymity. "She's done so many great things, but all of that is wiped out in the eyes of some people now. She's not a bad person."

The friend said the volleyball program's alumni have tried to reach out to Dorrell.

"She's in safe mode right now," the friend said. "Everyone has made mistakes. Everyone has dirty laundry, but not everyone has their dirty laundry shown on national television."

Long is in the middle of conducting a review of Petrino's conduct -- a process, he told The Associated Press, he will carry through the weekend and likely into Easter Sunday.

"It's difficult any time that we have a coach, an employee that makes a misstep; it's disappointing to me," Long said. "We have high expectations. I think every coach and every administrator and every staff person knows we have high expectations. Certainly, I'm disappointed."

Long didn't offer a timetable for the conclusion of the review, which is examining a variety of issues surrounding Petrino's motorcycle accident last weekend -- most notably, Thursday's revelation through a police report that Petrino was riding with Dorrell at the time of the wreck.

Petrino initially said he was alone during the accident before admitting to Long on Thursday he wasn't.

Petrino, married with four children, was noticeably vague in his statement on Thursday -- saying only he had acknowledged a "previous inappropriate relationship" without naming Dorrell as the other party in that relationship.

The AP has left messages with Dorrell, who was hired as a fundraiser by Petrino on March 28, but those messages have not been returned.

Petrino is hardly the first major college coach to be caught in a relationship scandal. Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino admitted to having sex with Karen Cunagin Sypher in a Louisville restaurant before becoming the victim of an extortion attempt by Sypher, who was later convicted.

Pitino kept his job despite a morals clause in his contract that would have allowed Louisville to fire him. Petrino has a similar conduct clause, and Arkansas is now faced with the decision of whether to keep the highly successful coach, who is 21-5 the past two seasons, 34-17 in four.

"These morals clauses have become increasingly important because sports are clearly, football and men's basketball, are large-revenue producers, and universities don't want any adverse publicity," said Matt Mitten, director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette. "But unfortunately coaches do some things or get involved in things that don't put the university in the best light."

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, speaking in general terms about how coaches must behave, said Saturday he talks to his players often about holding themselves to higher standards. He said both players and coaches must be "guarded at all times" and aware they are under the microscope.

"Like it or not, that's what you signed up for and that's your responsibility," Pelini said. "You're responsible to people way beyond just you -- first and foremost your family, the athletic department, the football team, the players, your staff, everybody you're associated with."

Pelini said he keeps that thought in mind anytime he's in public.

"Your reputation is your greatest asset," Pelini said. "You better protect it at all times."

Balancing a personal life with the high-profile nature of being a college football coach is far from an easy task. Paul Petrino, Arkansas' offensive coordinator and Bobby's brother, made that clear when he was asked about the accident on the day Bobby Petrino returned to work -- two days before the police report was released.

"It was just a freak accident. He wrecked," Paul Petrino said. "If that's most people, everyone would just be seeing him for a week in the hospital and taking care of him. (He) just happened to be who he is and the whole world knows about it. That's just kind of part of the deal, but he just wrecked on his motorcycle, so it's not like. ... We're just thankful he's OK."

Bobby Petrino's fate now lies in the hands of Long, who came to Arkansas in late 2007 from Pittsburgh. The 52-year-old has worked at Virginia Tech under athletic director Jim Weaver, who called Long a "hard worker" with a "great work ethic."

Long also spent time at Eastern Kentucky, where volleyball coach Lori Duncan coached at the time and said now that she expects Long to "do the right thing" based on what he finds during his investigation.

"Personal integrity is very important to him and to us, he alluded to doing things the right way," Duncan said. "It was very, very important to him. I can think back -- who the kids were, who they were as people and how he treated them. I'd be surprised if he didn't respond in a very strong way."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.