April 5, 2013

Rutgers basketball scandal brings down AD Pernetti

The Associated Press

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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

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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.

 

Pernetti enjoys some popularity among Rutgers alumni and donors, especially after he helped the school move to the Big Ten Conference, which means millions in additional revenue from TV contracts and more national exposure, especially in football. The move, which becomes official in 2014, should provide a big boost to the program in recruiting and season ticket sales. The Scarlet Knights will continue to play next season in the Big East.

Two of Rutgers' leading donors have threatened to cut their contributions in the wake of Pernetti's resignation.

Tom Mendiburu, whose High Point Solutions paid $6 million for the naming rights to the university's football stadium, tweeted that he was concerned because he made the deal because of Pernetti.

"We've invested so much into (hash)RU and now I'm not even sure who we turn to. Very sad day and I'm sorry Pernetti had to go through this," he tweeted.

Mendiburu said a lot of people are asking him what he is going to do and he wasn't sure.

The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Daniel Wheeler, a founding member of the Society of Queens College, where membership requires a minimum of $1 million donated over a lifetime, was upset Rutgers ignored prominent donors' pleas to keep Pernetti.

"I won't say numbers, but I've given over seven figures, and like a lot of people who have done the same, I support Tim Pernetti," Wheeler told the newspaper.

Pernetti, who hired Rice in 2010, viewed him as the man who could turn the perennially underachieving program around. But Rice went 44-51 in three years and posted a 16-38 mark in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season, including 5-13 in the league. They have not been to the NCAA tournament since 1991.

Barchi said Rice was not fired for cause. Under his contract, that means he's owed just over $1 million for the next two years at 75 percent of his contract amount, plus another $100,000 for completing the 2012-13 season as coach.

Also resigning was John B. Wolf, Rutgers' interim senior vice president and general counsel, who is believed to have recommended against firing Rice in December over the video. On Thursday, the school said assistant coach Jimmy Martelli had resigned.

Pernetti was given the video by a former employee, Eric Murdock, and the decision was made in December to suspend Rice for three games, fine and dock him pay totaling $75,000 and order him to attend anger management classes.

Murdock filed a whistleblower lawsuit Friday, alleging Rutgers violated the state's employee protection act and his contract. He said he wrote to the university in July about Rice's "unlawful conduct," and gave the university the video in November.

"Despite having been in possession of such video footage, the university and its representatives inexplicably chose to ignore Defendant Rice's unlawful conduct," the lawsuit said.

Rutgers officials, including Barchi, declined to comment about the lawsuit.

Murdock, who played in the NBA for nine seasons, was the director of player of development for the program. His contract wasn't renewed in July.

He said he was let go after a dispute with Rice about skipping the coach's youth basketball camp and, ultimately, because he complained to university officials about Rice's mistreatment of players.

Murdock claims the school violated state anti-bullying law and a Rutgers policy put in place after the 2010 suicide of student Tyler Clementi after learning his roommate had used the webcam to watch him kiss another man.

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