A lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and a hostile workplace environment against former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and the university was dismissed earlier this month, with both sides only paying their own costs and attorneys' fees.
The stipulated dismissal ends four years of legal issues involving Rodriguez, the university and a former administrative assistant, who first made allegations in 2017. A U.S. district judge approved the dismissal, which came after the university last month filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal based on a late filing. The dismissal does not include a settlement agreement or a nondisclosure agreement, and neither Rodriguez nor the university paid the former assistant to settle the case.
"This brings closure to a 4-year saga, affirming what we have maintained from the beginning -- that the plaintiff fabricated claims of harassment in an attempt to exact a large financial settlement," Bennett Speyer, Rodriguez's attorney, said in a statement to ESPN. "The scheme failed. She did not receive a single cent from my client or UA. Unfortunately, Coach Rodriguez paid a steep reputational price as the subject of publicized false allegations. As an added cost, his wife, Rita, and their children, as well as former UA staff members and players, were unnecessarily harmed."
In July 2019, Rodriguez's former assistant filed a federal lawsuit against Rich Rodriguez, Rita Rodriguez and the university, alleging violation of due process, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to Rodriguez's attorneys, the former assistant didn't attempt to serve the lawsuit until Oct. 28, 2019, and dropped Rich and Rita Rodriguez from the lawsuit on Nov. 25, 2019, while continuing against the university.
ESPN does not typically identify people who report acts of sexual assault or harassment.
The dismissal occurred because Rodriguez's former assistant did not file her civil rights complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within the 300-day deadline from the time of the alleged harassment, instead filing 343 days later. She initially filed a $7.5 million notice of claim with the Arizona attorney general's office on Dec. 28, 2017, alleging that Rodriguez ran a hostile workplace. The assistant alleged that Rodriguez forced her to keep his extramarital affair with a woman not affiliated with the university a secret and that he had groped and attempted to kiss her.
The University of Arizona investigated the allegations throughout the fall of 2017 and could not substantiate them, but became aware of information that caused administrators to "be concerned with the direction and climate of the football program." Rodriguez was fired Jan. 2, 2018, after going 43-35 in six seasons at the school.
Rodriguez admitted to having the affair but denied all other allegations and said the former assistant had threatened a $7.5 million lawsuit against him. The former assistant, who did not participate with the university's investigation into Rodriguez, filed an $8.5 million notice of claim against the university on Jan. 18, 2018, alleging that the school was liable for Rodriguez's conduct.
In a statement to ESPN, Arizona said: "The University has consistently maintained that this lawsuit lacked merit. We are extremely pleased that [Rodriguez's former assistant] apparently has reached a similar conclusion and has voluntarily dismissed her complaint without any settlement agreement or payment being made between the parties."
Rodriguez did not coach in 2018 but returned to the sideline in 2019 as offensive coordinator at Ole Miss. He's now in his first season as offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe, where his son, Rhett, plays quarterback after transferring there from Arizona.
Before coming to Arizona, Rodriguez spent three years as Michigan's coach and seven seasons leading West Virginia, his alma mater, where he finished No. 5 nationally in 2005 and went 32-5 between 2005 and 2007.