Western Kentucky hires Petrino

ATLANTA — Bobby Petrino was hired as football coach at Western Kentucky, eight months after being fired from the job at Arkansas following a motorcycle crash that injured him and a 25-year-old female staff member.

Petrino, 51, succeeds Willie Taggart, who left the Hilltoppers last week to become coach at South Florida. Western Kentucky was 7-5 this season and is playing Central Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26.

The hiring was announced in a statement on the Hilltopppers’ website.

Petrino was fired by Arkansas in April after he was injured in the accident and then covered up the fact that Jessica Dorrell, a member of his staff, was a passenger.

He later acknowledged having an “inappropriate relationship” with Dorrell and giving her about $20,000 worth of gifts. Dorrell resigned from her job a week after the accident.

Petrino had a 34-17 record in four seasons at Arkansas, leading the Razorbacks to a Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State. He joined the school in 2007 after leaving the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons 13 games into the season.

Arkansas hired John L. Smith to succeed Petrino and went 4-8, including 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference. Smith was replaced last week by Bret Bielema, who led Wisconsin to three consecutive Big Ten conference titles.