Rutgers Athletic Director Is Out Of A Job
(We most recently updated the top of this post at 2:15 p.m. ET.)
The abusive actions of the men's basketball coach at Rutgers University, who was videotaped physically and verbally abusing his players during the team's practices and was fired after the scenes were broadcast by ESPN, have now also cost the school's athletic director his job.
Tim Pernetti submitted his resignation Friday morning.
And school President Robert Barchi, at a news conference Friday afternoon, was pressed hard to explain why he too should not also step down because Rutgers officials had known about the coach's actions since at least December and had chosen to only suspend him for three games during the team's season.
Barchi told reporters he relied on the advice of Pernetti and the school's lawyers. Pernetti, who says he initially wanted to fire Rice, said in his resignation letter that it was after those lawyers and Rutgers human resources professionals got involved that it was decided in December not to dismiss coach Rice.
"I'm not going to try to defend myself," Barchi said, saying that it's up to his bosses — the school's governors — to decide if he should stay on the job. And on that point, the chairman of the school's board expressed his confidence in Barchi's leadership.
We've been following the news of Rice's actions, the outrage over the video and his subsequent firing this week. And we've been following the news today of Pernetti's resignation.
Scroll down to see our earlier updates and original post.
Update at 1:40 p.m. ET. As Athletic Director Steps Down, An Apology From The University's President:
Calling the decision not to fire men's basketball coach Mike Rice last December a "failure of process," Rutgers University President Robert Barchi just confirmed he has accepted the resignation of Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti.
At a news conference on the university's main campus, Barchi said "I regret that I did not ask to see the video" of Rice physically and verbally abusing his players when Pernetti brought the coach's actions to his attention last year. He is confident, Barchi added, that "this situation would have had a very different outcome" if he had watched the video.
Barchi also apologized to the "entire Rutgers community," the team's players and to the school's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. On the video, Rice spewed homophobic slurs at his players.
Asked if he too will be resigning, Barchi sidestepped the question. "I serve at the pleasure of the board," he said. "That's a question for them." Ralph Izzo, chair of Rutgers' governing board, told reporters that he does not feel Barchi should step down.
Asked if he recalls being told that Pernetti wanted to fire coach Rice back in December, Barchi said he does not remember hearing that at the time.
Barchi has been Rutgers' president since September 2012. Before that, he was president of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Scroll down to see our original post and an earlier update.
Update at 1:05 p.m. ET. Resignation Letter Is Posted:
"I write in confirmation of our conversation earlier today during which we agreed that it was in the best interests of Rutgers University that I step down from my position as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics," now former Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti says in a letter to school President Robert Barchi that was just posted on ScarletKnights.com, the website for the New Jersey state school's athletic teams.
He goes on to say that:
"In connection with the incidents involving former basketball Coach Mike Rice, as was the case with all other matters which I handled on behalf of the University, I always tried my best to do what is right.
"I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the events which led to today. As you know, 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."
Our original post picks up the story:
Rutgers University athletic director Tim Pernetti, who didn't move to fire men's basketball coach Mike Rice after seeing videos of the coach physically and verbally abusing the team's players, is losing his job according to multiple media reports.
New Jersey's The Record says "it's not immediately known if he was fired or resigned."
Rice, as we reported on Wednesday, wasn't fired until this week — after ESPN aired video taken during the team's practices that showed him grabbing players, throwing basketballs at their heads, swearing at them and hurling homophobic slurs their way. Pernetti saw the video evidence last December. He was instrumental in the decision at that time to suspend Rice for three games and fine the coach $50,000. Pernetti has said the school wanted to give Rice a second chance and was trying to help him "rehabilitate."
Once ESPN's report was aired, pressure quickly built for Rice to be dismissed. Then, there were calls from faculty members, alumni and others for Pernetti — and possibly school President Robert Barchi — to lose their jobs as well.
According to the Star-Ledger:
"Pernetti, 42, was hired in 2009 — signing a five-year contract worth $410,000 annually, with an annual performance bonus of $50,000 and a $12,000 annual car stipend. That contract is due to expire in June 2014 — months before Rutgers begins competing in the Big Ten."
Rice's firing has also been followed by the resignation of Rutgers' general counsel, the Star-Ledger says, and the resignation of an assistant basketball coach.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.