April 5, 2013

Rutgers basketball scandal brings down AD Pernetti

The Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers' coaching scandal spiraled deeper Friday, bringing down the popular athletic director and a school vice president while donors threatened to cut off their contributions to New Jersey's largest public university.

click image to enlarge

In this May 6, 2010, photo, Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, right, presents Mike Rice with a jersey after introducing Rice as the new men's head basketball coach.

AP

Related headlines

A timeline of the Rutgers basketball scandal

Feb. 26, 2009: Rutgers hires Tim Pernetti as athletic director.

May 6, 2010: Rutgers hires Mike Rice as men's basketball coach.

July 2010: Eric Murdock is hired as the basketball program's player development director.

July 2, 2012: Murdock is fired after he skips a youth camp run by Rice, according to a lawsuit. He says the university told him his contract wasn't being renewed.

July 11, 2012: Murdock's lawyer sends a letter to Rutgers' interim president and other university officials claiming Murdock was improperly fired in retaliation for discussing alleged misconduct by Rice.

Sept. 1: Robert Barchi takes office as Rutgers president.

Nov. 26: Murdock's lawyer gives Pernetti a 30-minute DVD of edited video clips culled from hundreds of hours of practice. The clips show Rice kicking and throwing basketballs at players, shoving them and berating them with foul language and gay slurs.

Nov. 27: Rutgers hires a law firm to investigate.

Dec. 13: Rutgers announces that Rice will be suspended without pay for three games, fined $50,000. He is also ordered to undergo anger management counseling.

April 2, 2013: ESPN airs clips from Murdock's video. Pernetti shows the video to other media outlets and to Barchi.

April 3: Rice is fired. Assistant basketball coach Jimmy Martelli resigns. A group of faculty members call for Barchi to resign or be fired and politicians call for Pernetti to lose his job.

April 4: Interim senior vice president and university counsel John Wolf, who had agreed that Rice should be suspended rather than fired, steps down from that position.

April 5: Pernetti resigns. Murdock fires a wrongful termination lawsuit against Rutgers. The chairman of the Rutgers board, Ralph Izzo, says Barchi will not be fired.

 

The day of mounting troubles for the school began with Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resigning over his failure to immediately fire coach Mike Rice, who was caught on video hitting, kicking and taunting players with anti-gay slurs at practice.

The video was shown Tuesday on ESPN, prompting outrage nationwide and on campus, where the coach's conduct was especially sensitive because of the 2010 suicide of a student who killed himself after his roommate used a webcam to record him kissing another man.

Rice was fired by Pernetti on Wednesday, but the athletic director immediately came under criticism for only suspending and fining the coach after the video was brought to his attention four months ago. Pernetti said Friday he wanted to fire Rice on the spot but did not because the consensus among school officials at the time was that it didn't warrant dismissal.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi came under harsh questioning from reporters at a news conference Friday over what he knew about the video months ago, but he got a nod of support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the school's board of governors.

Barchi, who took office in September 2012, said he first saw the video only this week, but was aware it existed in late November when Pernetti gave him a summary of what was on it at the time.

"This was a failure of process. I regret that I did not ask to see this video when Tim first told me of its existence," Barchi said. "I want to apologize to the entire Rutgers community for the negative impact that this situation has had on Rutgers.

"I also apologize to the LGBT community and all of us who share their values for the homophobic slurs shown on that video. I personally know how hurtful that language can be."

Based on the information he received from Pernetti, Barchi said he "agreed with and supported his recommendation to suspend, rather than fire, coach Rice at that time. It was not until Tuesday evening of this week, when I watched the video, that I had the opportunity to witness personally for the first time what Tim had seen last fall.

"I was deeply disturbed by the behavior that the video revealed, which was much more abusive and pervasive than I had understood it to be. As Tim acknowledged on Wednesday, his decision to rehabilitate, rather than fire, coach Rice was wrong."

Barchi said the school hopes to appoint an interim athletic director in a few days but he admitted he had no idea whether that person would come from inside or outside the university.

The 42-year-old Pernetti is a Rutgers graduate who played tight end for the Scarlet Knights from 1989-93.

Pernetti said in his resignation letter to Barchi that "my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice's behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel."

"Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved," it said.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)