SBD/April 4, 2013/Colleges

Handling Of Mike Rice Scandal Has Many Calling For AD, President To Be Fired

Barchi said that he did not see the tape of Rice abusing players until Tuesday
Rutgers Univ. AD Tim Pernetti and President Robert Barchi "find themselves under scrutiny for their handling" of the player abuse by former basketball coach Mike Rice, and their jobs "may be in jeopardy," according to a front-page piece by Eder & Zernike of the N.Y. TIMES. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Rutgers officials should "strongly consider" firing Pernetti. At least 10 faculty members, "including the dean of the Graduate School at Rutgers in Newark, signed a letter calling for Dr. Barchi, just seven months into his term, to resign for his 'inexcusable handling of Coach Mike Rice’s homophobic and misogynist abuse of our students.'" The faculty members "accused Dr. Barchi of covering up the coach’s behavior by neglecting to tell them and the student body about the extent of it in the fall." Top Rutgers officials yesterday "held an emergency meeting" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). In Newark, Sherman & Heyboer in a front-page piece report Barchi "never asked to see the video that showed his head basketball coach raving at players, throwing balls at their heads and uttering homophobic slurs during practices -- even though he knew as early as last November that they existed." A source said that Barchi "relied on the advice" of Pernetti and a "nearly 50-page report from an outside investigator, concluding last fall that video showing basketball coach Mike Rice’s rants were not serious enough to get him fired." Sources said that Barchi's support for Pernetti's initial decision to retain Rice was "complicated by fears of legal action, the new president’s lack of experience managing a Division 1 athletic department and the bureaucracy of the university itself" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/4).

QUESTIONING BARCHI'S HONESTY: In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes Pernetti and Barchi are trying to "save themselves despite negligence that should have both of them out the door along with the coach." Pernetti "thought he could get out in front of this story by going on a sports talk radio tour on Tuesday afternoon, even though he had been shamefully behind, and pigheaded, from the start." He "seemed to indicate to reporters on Tuesday that Barchi had seen the tape showing Rice’s abuse" in December. Pernetti on Tuesday said, "We deal with everything in the wide open." But Lupica notes Barchi now "says that he did not view the tape the whole world seems to have seen until Tuesday." So we are "expected to believe that the Rutgers president, working 'closely' with his athletic director, signed off on a suspension and fine for his basketball coach in the middle of the season, but was content to accept Pernetti’s version of things without looking at this shameful -- to Rice, to the school -- piece of film." If that is true, Barchi "should be fired not just for his negligence, but for a rather shocking lack of leadership" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/4). Also in N.Y., Tom Harvey writes if Pernetti and Barchi did not watch the tape, "they should be fired for sheer negligence and stupidity." If they did, they "should be fired, and at a minimum, investigated by law enforcement with respect to possible criminal violations." Harvey: "Once again, kids come last at a major university" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/4). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke said, "It smells very much like a cover-up and I can’t imagine that the athletic director will be around much longer” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/3).

CALLING FOR THEIR HEADS: SI.com's George Dohrmann wrote, "Let's hope that Rutgers Board of Governors calls an emergency meeting and fires Pernetti. No investigation needed. No internal review required." Pernetti's "actions (or inaction) are as despicable as Rice's." The Rutgers BOG "should also fire" Barchi. There is "no possible reason to leave those two in power, not after you parse what happened last December" (SI.com, 4/3). In N.Y., Michael Jacobowitz writes Barchi "needs to take control of this situation immediately." He no longer can "let Pernetti be the face of Rutgers." With the nation "looking at the university," Barchi needs to "be the face and voice of Rutgers." He needs to "make big moves," and "needs to unfortunately let Pernetti go" (N.Y. POST, 4/4). A Newark STAR-LEDGER editorial states the "entire Rutgers hierarchy, in a line that stretches from Pernetti’s office all the way to Barchi’s, has lost credibility on this issue." How can we "trust this crew to hire the next basketball coach?" How can we "know they won’t let another coach abuse his players like this, and tolerate such offensive bigotry." The Rice episode "calls for an outside investigation of Rutgers administrators to find out whether this poisonous behavior has been tolerated on other teams" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/4). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said, “I wonder if (Pernetti) is going to survive this kind of bad judgment because you pay leaders to have some sort of vision and he clearly knew that this video was going to come out … and he didn’t react to it with vision the way that you want leaders to" (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/3).

Writers feel Pernetti's previous TV roles
should have given him better perspective
PERNETTI'S MEDIA ACUMEN NO HELP?
 USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes Pernetti's behavior is "even more astounding considering his background, which should have prepared him to handle just such an event as this." He is "a TV guy, working for years in programming for ABC Sports, then moving to the cable start-up CSTV and creating the first-ever 24-hour network dedicated completely to college sports." Brennan: "How could a man with that background not realize that all the damning footage he was looking at was going to get out?" (USA TODAY, 4/4). SI’s Andy Staples said of Pernetti, “He should know better. He started in TV. He co-founded (CBS Sport Network) so he should’ve known when he saw that video, ‘If this ever gets out, it’s going to kill our recruiting, it’s going to kill our fundraising, it’s going to embarrass the university’” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 4/3).

MONEY & POWER: In DC, Jason Reid writes as "appalling as Rice’s actions were, the initial response by the Scarlet Knights also was pathetic." By "merely suspending Rice for three games and fining him $50,000 in December after investigating what he viewed on the tape," Pernetti "displayed an even bigger failure of leadership." The situation is "another sobering reminder about the warped nature of big-time college athletics" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes the claims against Rice were "stunning," but the conclusion "seems sadly familiar." Gay: "Intoxicated by sports, a school lost its way." Winning and money are "powerful drugs, difficult to resist" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/4). A N.Y. TIMES editorial states, "The overseers of Rutgers, the board of trustees, should promptly and fully investigate Mr. Pernetti’s role and that of other senior officials, up to and including the university president, Robert Barchi." Any "unvarnished investigation must find out who at Rutgers knew what, and when." More broadly, it "must ask whether and to what extent their judgment was skewed by the university’s growing commitment to big-time sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). Meanwhile, in L.A., Chris Dufresne writes under the header, "Scandals Overshadow Joy As NCAA Prepares To Celebrate Final Four." The Rutgers situation is "administration incompetence at its worst" (L.A. TIMES, 4/4).

BIG TEN'S COMMANDMENTS: Sweeney said, "I take it back to the athletic director. Once you have something like that presented to you, there's no gray (area)." Sweeney, when asked if the state will perform an inquiry into the school's handling of the case, said, "If hearings are necessary, we'll go there." He added that he "hoped Rutgers' recent entry into the Big 10 athletic conference was not cause for a cover-up, but he said the possibility could not be ruled out" (NJ.com, 4/3). In Chicago, David Haugh writes if Pernetti's "blatant disregard for what's best for student-athletes eventually doesn't make him the next Rutgers employee dismissed, then the Big Ten needs to reconsider before 2014 whether the Eastern seaboard is worth adding an athletic department so adrift" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/4). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan in a front-page piece writes of all the reactions "reverberating through a windswept Rutgers campus" yesterday, there was "one whisper of salvation shared among those left standing. Thank goodness for the Big Ten." As a "shamed athletic department fights its way back for the trust of its constituents, the Big Ten is the rising sun, the dawning day, the reason for hope amid some of the darkest days in a long, dark program history." Now Rutgers "just has to prove it is worthy" (Bergen RECORD, 4/4).

MEDIA MONITOR: SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported ESPN's Bob Knight "cancelled his scheduled appearance" on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike In the Morning" today. Deitsch added, "ESPN says he has declined comment on Mike Rice" (TWITTER.com, 4/3). Today's edition of CBS’ “This Morning” reported on Rice with its second report of the broadcast, with 2:35 of total coverage. NBC’s “Today” first reported on Rice 9:57 into the program, with 4:12 of total coverage. ABC’s “GMA” first reported on Rice at 11:33, with 2:23 of total coverage. CBS’ Seth Doane aired a report from the Rutgers campus for CBS’ “Evening News” and “This Morning,” while NBC’s Anne Thompson was on-campus reporting for “Nightly News.” This morning’s edition of “Today” aired a taped report with Natalie Morales talking to students and players on the Rutgers campus. ABC’s Gio Benitez aired a report for both “World News” and “GMA.”

EVENING EDITION
: The Rutgers story has been picked up by nearly every national newscast this week, including last night’s edition of ABC’s “World News,” which led with Rice's termination and totaled 2:46 of coverage. NBC’s “Nightly News” tackled the issue in its second story of last night's broadcast with 3:29 of total coverage. CBS’ “Evening News” first reported on Rice at 15:55 into the broadcast, with 1:58 of total coverage (THE DAILY).
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