Long is the UA Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. Petrino, hired four years ago by Long, was coming off two highly successful seasons. The just completed 11-2 campaign was the best since the Hogs went 11-1 in 1977. The team played in its first BCS game the previous season.
Long said he met with Petrino on Tuesday morning to tell him that he believed there was "cause" for a termination. Per the terms of Petrino's contract, he was notified by letter of the termination Tuesday afternoon.
Long said Petrino would receive no buyout since it was with cause. Petrino receives around $3.8 million annually and signed a seven-year contract after the 2010 season.
Long said Petrino "jeopardized" the football program with his decisions and noted that the coach had given $20,000 "in cash" to Jessica Dorrell, the employee who was with him on the Sunday motorcycle ride that ended in a wreck.
"He made a conscious decision to withhold information," Long said. "He had multiple opportunities to disclose information (about his passenger on the motorcycle) over four days."
Petrino sustained a cracked vertebrae, four broken bones and multiple lacerations in the wreck. He revealed an "inappropriate relationship" with Dorrell on Thursday when he realized that the investigation conducted by the Arkansas State Police would contain her name.
Long said Petrino was on the review of the hiring of Dorrell, a former UA volleyball star and assistant director at the Razorback Foundation. Long said Petrino didn't disclose his relationship with Dorrell at that time, a conflict of interest violation.
"Coach Petrino was terminated with cause," Long said, "and there was no negotiation about ways he could remain as our head football coach."
Long also said Petrino did not offer any change of terms in his contract when they met early Tuesday.
As part of the review process upon termination as detailed in Petrino's contract, he is eligible to appeal to Chancellor G. David Gearhart.
"This is a sad day for the University of Arkansas and Razorback sports," Gearhart said in a statement released by the school. "After a thorough review, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long has made his decision.
"Mr. Petrino's contract establishes a process by which he may have his termination decision reviewed. Under that process, the review would ultimately come to me for consideration and action.
"Given my role in the review process as Chancellor, I must decline further comment on today's announcement."
John Tyson of Springdale, member of the UA Board of Trustees, attended Long's announcement briefing at Bud Walton Arena.
"I thought Jeff ran a very good process," Tyson said. "A tough process, but he went and collected facts and those facts led him to a decision."
"You can tell he was personally impacted by the decision. He had a lot of belief in Bobby and Bobby did good things for the program, but a set of facts were discovered and you have to make a decision based on the facts."
"I have been in the business world a long time, so nothing surprises me anymore. People are entitled to a private life, but when you go into a relationship with a leader, Jeff, and Bobby working with him -- Jeff gave Bobby more than enough time to answer the questions and it always came back to Bobby struggling to answer the questions in a timely manner."
Long said both Petrino and Dorrell confirmed the $20,000 gift.
"By itself, a consensual relationship is not against policy," Long said. "However, he used his authority in a staff decision ... that jeopardizes the program and the university. He deceived me and our staff."
Long also called Petrino's behavior "reckless" and said it was "contrary to the character we demand of the head coach."
The athletic director said he "realized" the termination would not sit well with everyone.
"But our primary mission as an educational institution with over 23,000 students is to uphold high standards," he said. "No single individual is bigger than the team."
Long said the search to replace Petrino could include Johnson, the new assistant head coach hired from Ohio State after the bowl. And it could include new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and Paul Petrino, the offensive coordinator. Long said if a new head coach cannot be found before next season, the program would have an interim coach for 2012 and then begin a search after the season.
Long said he met with both the staff and the team on Tuesday.
As far as fans, Long said, "I know we have very passionate fans that have been supportive of our program. The student-athletes, coaches and fans are the backbone of what we are and who we are. I know there is disappointment and I have disappointment. I expect them to be disappointed but in the end, I expect them to rally around the student-athletes in this program who are quite outstanding. I hope they rally around them because we have the opportunity to have a very successful year next year."
Long said Petrino showed disappointment and remorse when they met on Tuesday.
"He was sorry that it happened," said Long, who also felt disappointment. "I brought Coach Petrino here and I know his family. Certainly they have been great partners as we've worked together to build the football program. Obviously Coach Petrino had a huge part of that so this is very difficult. It's difficult on a human and personal level, but I have responsibilities greater than that and I have to put those aside and do what is in the best interest of the University."
What is the impact on the program?
"It's hard to say what impact this will have, but we hope to find a head football coach that can lead this program and attract the kind of student-athletes that can be successful in the SEC," Long said. "We all know this is the toughest football conference in the country and we're in the toughest division so I think that'll attract a quality coach and quality student-athletes.
"I think certainly the success that we have had on the field is a great factor in that and I think the additions that we have made to our football program, upgrading video technology and all of those kind of things, upgrading the football stadium with the new artificial surface and the new football center we're bulding now, I think all of those will make the job more attractive than it was maybe when Coach Petrino took the job.
"Peoples lives are affected. Coach Petrino's, his staff, the student-athletes within our program, so those are the things that sometimes we miss."
Petrino did not meet with the team, nor was he available to the media. He released a statement through his attorney Tuesday night after Long's media briefing.
"I was informed in writing today at 5:45 p.m. that I was being terminated as head football coach at the University of Arkansas.
"The simplest response I have is: I'm sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I've let down by making selfish decisions. I've taken a lot of criticism in the past. Some deserved, some not deserved. This time, I have no one to blame but myself.
"I chose to engage in an improper relationship. I also made several poor decisions following the end of that relationship and in the aftermath of the accident. I accept full responsibility for what has happened.
"I'm sure you heard Jeff Long's reasons for termination. There was a lot of information shared. Given the decision that has been made, this is not the place to debate Jeff's view of what happened. In the end, I put him in the position of having to sort through my mistakes and that is my fault.
"I have hurt my wife Becky and our four children. I've let down the University of Arkansas, my team, coaching staff and everyone associated with the Razorback football program. As a result of my personal mistakes, we will not get to finish our goal of building a championship program. I wish that I had been given the opportunity to meet with the players and staff prior to this evening's press conference and hope that I will be given the opportunity to give my apologies and say my goodbyes in person. We have left the program in better shape than we found it and I want the Razorback Nation to know that it is my hope that the program achieves the success it deserves.
"My sole focus at this point is trying to repair the damage I've done to my family. They did not ask for any of this and deserve better. I am committed to being a better husband, father and human being as a result of this and will work each and every day to prove that to my family, friends and others.
"I love football. I love coaching. I of course hope I can find my way back to the profession I love. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to heal the wounds I have created.
"I want to thank Chancellor Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, the University administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and fans for the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at the University of Arkansas for the past 4 years. I was not given an opportunity to continue in that position. I wish that had been the case, but that was not my decision. I wish nothing but the best for the Razorback football program, the University and the entire Razorback Nation."