SBD/April 5, 2013/Colleges

Rutgers Parts Ways With AD Tim Pernetti In Wake Of Mike Rice Abuse Scandal

Pernetti's initial decision not to fire Rice led to his eventual ouster
Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti is the "latest casualty" of the scandal surrounding former basketball coach Mike Rice, as Pernetti "is out" after originally deciding not to fire Rice upon learning of player abuse in December, according to Tara Sullivan of the Bergen RECORD. Pernetti was hired in '09, signing a "five-year contract worth $410,000 annually, with an annual performance bonus of $50,000 and a $12,000 annual car stipend" (NORTHJERSEY.com, 4/5). ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy cited a source as saying that Pernetti "resigned" his position, and that his job status was "actually arrived at Thursday by the school." Rutgers President Robert Barchi, like Pernetti, was "sharply criticized for Rice remaining on the job as coach for as long as he did." But a source said Barchi is "highly likely" to remain with the school (ESPN.com, 4/5). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes it was "easy and obvious to first go after" Rice. The "next obvious target, of course," became Pernetti, but that is "still not enough." Barchi's "complicity in this matter -- in everything that plays out now at Rutgers University -- was completely obvious from the start." He "did not do his job when Pernetti came to him and told him about the tape." Nothing has "changed now that Pernetti follows Rice out the door at Rutgers." If they "go, Barchi goes." The idea that Barchi "survives this is as ridiculous as the decisions made months ago to set this whole thing in motion" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 4/5). ESPN’s McMurphy said of Pernetti, “It looks like he’s kind of the sacrificial lamb. It will be interesting to see if the Rutgers president will survive this also. ... There's a large contingent of Rutgers faculty that want the president out as well" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/5).

PUBLIC DEMANDS: ESPN’s Andy Katz said Pernetti’s ouster is a “classic case of public perception climbing up to the highest levels of the state.” Katz said the Big Ten “wanted to get into the New York market,” which is why Rutgers was accepted. Pernetti “certainly helped drive that, but according to one Big Ten source I spoke with, he said, ‘You have to keep in mind it’s not one person, it’s not one incident that would change a long-term relationship.’ Now had all this ballooned at the same time they were trying to decide on Rutgers into the Big Ten, then yes it may have affected that decision” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/5). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "You get a mob of people saying, ‘You know what, that situation was so over the line that everyone involved needs to lose their jobs.’” Greenberg: “If I’m the president of the university, I’m quite worried about this situation as well” (“Mike and Mike in the Morning, ESPN Radio, 4/5). Radio host Dan Patrick said, “You have a president at Rutgers who’s either incompetent or, I’m trying to think of another word you can attach to him. I guess a liar" (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 4/5). ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor writes of Pernetti's initial decision to merely suspend Rice after viewing a video showing player abuse, "It appears Pernetti didn't do the right thing because he was the one who hired Rice, because he wanted to minimize the damage, and because he didn't want anyone or anything to rain on the school's Big Ten parade.” Pernetti was "protecting the program," but he was "protecting Tim Pernetti, too" (ESPNNY.com, 4/5).

TWITTER REAX: Reaction to Rutgers parting ways with Pernetti spread quickly on Twitter, including CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman writing, "No shock given climate around that story now." CBSSports.com's Will Brinson: "Don't let the basketball smash you in the face on the way out the door, Tim Pernetti." USA Today's Dan Wolken opined, "What a fiasco. Rutgers is going to have no athletic director and no coach heading into April. All so easily preventable. … There are so many massive issues that go into a conference transition, too. Terrible time not to have an AD." USA Today's Kelly Whiteside chimed in, "With Pernetti gone, rudderless Rutgers about to embark on most significant era of its sports history. Who can take them there?" Newark Star-Ledger's Steve Politi: "What an epic disaster. Unthinkable that, 136 days ago, Pernetti was sitting in front of a B1G banner, a conquering hero. ... Now, no AD, no basketball coach, furious -- and I mean furious -- donors. It is back to the dark ages at Rutgers." ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil: "No AD, no hoops coach, president on the ropes. Headed to Big Ten. Rutgers has cornered market on the illogic of today's college athletics." NFL Network analyst and Rutgers alum Shaun O'Hara: "Flabbergasted & Disappointed by the news. This has gone from bad to worse. But My feelings on @Tim_Pernetti have not wavered for a second."

KNIGHTS WERE JOUSTING: In N.Y., Brian Lewis reports more than 50 Rutgers Univ. faculty members signed a letter on Thursday demanding Pernetti "follow his first major hire out the door," with "28 more calling" for Barchi to be fired. Rutgers "had tentative plans to hold a press conference" on Thursday to discuss the scandal surrounding Rice, but the school "scrapped those plans.” A source on Thursday said, "Barchi doesn’t want to fire him; I know that for a fact. And (Pernetti) definitely has the support of the money (men)." Rutgers Athletic Development Dir William Montanaro on Thursday “sent emails to a wide distribution list requesting letters be sent to Barchi and the head of the Board of Governors supporting Pernetti" (N.Y. POST, 4/5). Meanwhile, NCAA President Mark Emmert on Thursday was asked if the Rutgers incident merited being cited for a "lack of institutional control" or "failure to monitor." Emmert responded, “I don’t know. It would be inappropriate to comment. I'm not trying to dodge a question, but I haven't had a chance in the past 48 hours to even think about it. Moreover, it's not my judgment call. It's the judgment call of the enforcement staff and the Committee on Infractions” (NJ.com, 4/4).

SCARLET LETTERS: The AP's Geoff Mulvihill reported Mike Rice is “due a $100,000 bonus for lasting through the season.” Rice “would not be collecting the bonus if he had been fired in December when the university first saw the video and the administration decided only to discipline him” (AP, 4/4). Meanwhile, in Newark, Brendan Prunty reported Rutgers assistant basketball coach Jimmy Martelli "resigned from the program" on Wednesday. On a portion of the video leading to Rice's firing "that did not make airwaves, Martelli was seen shoving an unidentified player twice during a practice" (NJ.com, 4/4).

BLOWING THE WHISTLE: In Newark, Mark Mueller cites a December letter from former Rutgers assistant basketball coach Eric Murdock’s lawyer Barry Kozyra as indicating Murdock, who provided ESPN's "Outside The Lines" with the videos that led to Rice's ouster, “alerted Rutgers officials about the problem behavior” of Rice “as early as last June.” Kozyra “contends in the letter his client was illegally terminated for blowing the whistle on Rice.” Rutgers officials have “indicated Murdock’s contract was not renewed because he was insubordinate, ignoring a directive against speaking at an unaffiliated basketball clinic while the university was operating one of its own.” Kozyra wrote that Murdock “would be willing to settle the matter, including attorney’s fees, for $950,000,” but if Rutgers and Murdock “failed to reach a settlement by Jan. 4, he would file suit.” Murdock attorney Raj Gadhok said that the suit, alleging "wrongful termination and violation of the law protecting whistle-blowers, could be filed as early as" Friday (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/5).
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