SBD/April 3, 2013/Colleges

Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti Reverses Course, Fires Basketball Coach After Fallout From Video

Pernetti today said he was wrong to not fire Rice in December
Rutgers Univ. today terminated the contract of men’s basketball coach Mike Rice based upon recently-revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues stemming from a video of him abusing players. AD Tim Pernetti said in a statement, “I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice. Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community” (Rutgers). ESPN’s John Barr said Pernetti “really went through a bit of a transformation over the course of three different interviews,” being “steadfast” on ESPN yesterday in defending his decision in December to retain Rice. But in “subsequent interviews, he had moved away from that original support” and “you could see this decision coming.” Barr: “I think the outrage on the part of so many people just left Rutgers, frankly, with very little other decision to make, other than the one they made this morning.” ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said the “decision had to be made.” Greenberg: “You’re talking about an institution that needs to figure out a way to move forward.” He noted the Scarlet Knights need to “improve their facilities to help the new coach rebuild a program” that will put the school “on a level playing field with the rest of the Big Ten” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/3).

SEEING SCARLET: On Newark, Brendan Prunty writes in a front-page piece that the video showing Rice being abusive to players “sent shockwaves through college basketball” yesterday after a 40-minute tape aired on ESPN's "Outside The Lines." Rutgers until yesterday “kept the details vague” about why Rice was previously suspended. The school previously said that Rice had “abused players and had thrown basketballs.” But the tape “showed aggressiveness and foul language not seen publicly before.” Pernetti before the airing of the video invited a “small group of media members to view the tape yesterday afternoon in his office.” He said that he had “dealt with Rice’s conduct and called his behavior a first offense.” He said that university President Robert Barchi also was “made aware of the tape’s contents and was in line with the discipline handed down to Rice” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/3).

ON THE HOT SEAT: CNBC’s Brian Shactman said Pernetti “has been a great” AD for Rutgers. But the school is “under tremendous pressure right now.” We will “see if they stand by” Pernetti and Barchi (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 4/3). SI.com’s Andy Staples wrote the “rub” is Pernetti could have fired Rice “earlier, and he would have looked like a champion for the welfare of his athletes.” Now, he “looks like a wishy-washy administrator who didn't have the sense to make the smart and/or right choice the first time around” (SI.com, 4/2). ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor wrote this is “no longer about Mike Rice;” this is about the “senior administrators at Rutgers University, the people who failed to protect their students from a common abuser and homophobe.” Rice is “no legend, except, apparently, in his own mind, but this case summons some of the same troubling questions raised at Joe Paterno's Penn State, where the program and the coach were protected at all costs, leading to a scandal that shocked the world” (ESPNNY.com, 4/2). FOXSPORTS.com’s Jason Whitlock writes there is “an immoral and dangerous power imbalance at the root of all the NCAA corruption.” The athletes, the “revenue-generators, the young people deemed too precious to be burdened by the dollars they produce, have absolutely no power and no watchdog institutions looking out for their welfare.” That is why Rutgers “thought it could get away with slapping ... Rice on the wrist” (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/3).
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