Last week, the Associated Press reported (via Huffington Post Sports) University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, who was recently released from the hospital after a severe motorcycle accident, had been in the company of a 25 year-old women. Oh, did I mention Petrino is 51 and married? After withholding this information from school officials, Petrino is now on paid leave pending a review by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long.
The actions of a head coach, or any staff member for that matter, reflect on the the university brand. What was once thought to be a tragedy – a near-devastating crash, is now a clear demonstration of karma. But that’s besides the point. The real issue is not only was Petrino engaged in less-than-wholesome activity, he lied to Arkansas about it. The key to branding is never lie – you will always get caught. This isn’t to say a married, 51 year-old football coach with a 25 year-old on the back of his motorcycle would not have been scandalous if Petrino hadn’t kept that secret to himself. But, it wouldn’t have been such a surprise to his bosses. And in crisis communications, surprises are never a good thing. Moral of the story? Never lie, cheat or steal. But if you do, tell the truth about it sooner rather than later.
PS. In this post, withholding information is the same as lying.
Huffington Post Sports reported today that Petrino was fired for ‘misleading’ the University of Arkansas regarding his relationship with his mistress. Great move by Long.