Donors threaten to cut off funds at Rutgers after popular AD resigns in basketball scandal

  • Article by: TOM CANAVAN , Associated Press
  • Updated: April 6, 2013 - 2:32 AM

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - The burgeoning basketball scandal has cost Rutgers more than a popular, young athletic director, an interim general counsel, two coaches and a lot of embarrassment.

The state university of New Jersey is in danger of losing some of its biggest donors in tough economic times.

The school's woes only mounted on a day that started with AD Tim Pernetti resigning over his failure to fire coach Mike Rice in December after reviewing video of the coach hitting, kicking and taunting players with anti-gay slurs at practice.

First-year Rutgers President Robert Barchi came under intense questioning at a news conference Friday over what he knew about the video months ago, but he got a nod of support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the school's board of governors.

Eric Murdock, the former NBA player and Rice's director of basketball development, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university for unspecified damages for wrongful termination.

His video of Rice's actions at practice was shown Tuesday on ESPN, prompting outrage nationwide and on campus, where the coach's conduct was especially sensitive because of the 2010 suicide of a student who killed himself after his roommate used a webcam to record him kissing another man.

The day ended with some of Rutgers' biggest backers threatening to stop writing checks because they were upset Pernetti, a rising star who had guided the Scarlet Knights' move to the Big Ten Conference, was forced out for not firing Rice when he first became aware of the video.

Tom Mendiburu, whose High Point Solutions paid $6 million for the naming rights to the university's football stadium, tweeted that he was concerned, saying 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, was upset that Rutgers ignored prominent donors' pleas to keep Pernetti. Membership in the society, which bears the name under which Rutgers was chartered in 1766, requires a minimum of $1 million donated to the school.

"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.

The Ledger also reported late Friday night that, according to a settlement agreement obtained by the newspaper, Pernetti will be paid more than $1.2 million in return for his resignation.

Pernetti, who admitted he made a mistake in not firing Rice immediately in December after getting a copy of the video, didn't leave without a little finger-pointing.

In handing in his resignation, the former Rutgers tight end said that he wanted to fire Rice on the spot but did not because the consensus among school officials at the time was that his actions didn't warrant dismissal.

Instead he suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to take anger management classes.

Barchi approved the punishment without asking to see the video, which he knew existed. He relied on his athletic director's recommendation. That was a mistake, he said.

"This was a failure of process. I regret that I did not ask to see this video when Tim first told me of its existence," Barchi said. "I want to apologize to the entire Rutgers community for the negative impact that this situation has had on Rutgers.

"I also apologize to the LGBT community and all of us who share their values for the homophobic slurs shown on that video. I personally know how hurtful that language can be."

Barchi said he watched the video for the first time with Pernetti on Tuesday night and told him to fire the coach who was his first major hire.

Pernetti did the next day.

"I was deeply disturbed by the behavior that the video revealed, which was much more abusive and pervasive than I had understood it to be," Barchi said. "As Tim acknowledged on Wednesday, his decision to rehabilitate, rather than fire, coach Rice was wrong."

Barchi said the school hopes to appoint an interim athletic director in a few days, while admitting he doesn't know whether that person will come from inside or outside the university.

Pernetti said in his resignation letter that he hoped his tenure at Rutgers would not be judged by one incident.

"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," he said.

Pernetti's biggest coup was getting Rutgers into the Big Ten, 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.

Pernetti, who hired Rice in 2010, viewed him as an intense leader 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. On Thursday, the school said assistant coach Jimmy Martelli had resigned.

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

"Despite their obligations under New Jersey law and the university's own policy, neither the presidents of the university, the athletic director nor any other university representatives took any steps to assure that the rights of the student-athlete members of the men's basketball program were protected from assault (both physical and verbal), battery, harassment, intimidation, bullying, defamation and other unlawful conduct," the lawsuit states.

Despite the latest resignations and the growing troubles, Barchi got votes of confidence Friday.

Christie commended Barchi "for his decisive leadership in coming to an agreement with Mr. Pernetti to have the athletic department of Rutgers University come under new leadership," he said.

Ralph Izzo, chairman of the school's board of governors, called Barchi "the right person to run this place for many years to come."

He noted Barchi was brought in with two primary objectives: No. 1 was to build a strategic plan for this university for 10 years, going forward, to lead us to academic success and academic greatness; and No. 2, an enormous challenge of integrating a medical school with this university. Being on the job two months, hearing from a general counsel and the athletic director that there was a serious problem, I think he did the right thing by acquiescing to that advice at the time."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 17 4th Qtr 14:35
New England 9
Cleveland 10 3rd Qtr 2:08
Baltimore 3
Dallas 27 3rd Qtr 4:00
Washington 10
Indianapolis 17 3rd Qtr 6:52
Tennessee 7
Jacksonville 10 3rd Qtr 5:35
Houston 14
San Diego 7 3rd Qtr 4:36
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 21 3rd Qtr 7:17
Miami 24
Chicago 6 4th Qtr 14:11
Minnesota 10
Philadelphia 24 3rd Qtr 7:25
NY Giants 16
New Orleans 7 3rd Qtr 1:10
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
Dallas
New York 8:00 PM
Portland
Toronto 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Florida
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 34 2nd Half 15:47
Arizona State 38
Longwood 22 2nd Half 18:58
Ball State 28
Sacred Heart 37 2nd Half
Brown 40
Colgate 33 2nd Half
Columbia 31
MD-Eastern Shore 56 2nd Half 13:51
Duquesne 47
UNC Greensboro 28 2nd Half 18:57
East Carolina 48
Marist 18 2nd Half 19:10
Elon 34
NJIT 31 2nd Half
Lafayette 33
Cincinnati Christian 27 2nd Half 18:47
Liberty 34
Morgan State 17 2nd Half 20:00
Marquette 37
Campbell 23 2nd Half 18:51
Samford 28
Bucknell 43 2nd Half 16:47
Siena 39
Long Beach State 40 2nd Half
Syracuse 44
Coppin State 30 2nd Half
Evansville 45
UMKC 29 2nd Half 19:11
Indiana State 32
Hofstra 35 1st Half 3:52
Long Island 20
Coast Guard 0 1st Half 19:08
Army 3
Thomas (GA) 2:00 PM
High Point
Texas Southern 2:00 PM
Kansas State
Rutgers 5 1st Half 17:11
Monmouth 7
NC Wesleyan 4 1st Half 16:42
NC A&T 3
South Dakota St 2 1st Half 18:18
Northern Iowa 0
Central Penn College 0 1st Half 19:6
Radford 2
Bowling Green 4 1st Half 16:47
South Florida 3
Harris-Stowe 7 1st Half 15:53
SE Missouri St 10
Robert Morris-IL 2 1st Half 15:43
SIU Edwardsville 10
Northland College 6 1st Half 16:43
North Dakota St 9
Milwaukee 2 1st Half 17:32
South Dakota 4
Northwestern St 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Saint Peters 3:00 PM
Cornell
St Katherine 3:00 PM
Fresno State
Haskell 3:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Wake Forest 3:00 PM
Richmond
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
Xavier
SD Christian 3:05 PM
Northern Ariz
Judson 3:30 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Bradley
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Fairfield
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Houston
Lehigh 4:00 PM
UMBC
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Temple
Belmont 5:00 PM
Butler
Howard 5:00 PM
Fordham
NW Christian 5:00 PM
Nevada
UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
Abilene Christian 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UCLA 5:30 PM
Alabama
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Washington
Buffalo 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 31 2nd Half 18:50
Pittsburgh 51
Milwaukee 37 2nd Half 18:25
IUPU-Ft Wayne 37
Gardner-Webb 32 2nd Half 17:08
Longwood 32
New Hampshire 16 2nd Half 20:00
Manhattan 29
Bucknell 36 2nd Half
Binghamton 34
Northeastern 45 2nd Half 13:59
Albany 39
George Mason 21 2nd Half 20:00
Towson 33
Richmond 25 2nd Half
William & Mary 37
Tulane 32 2nd Half 18:58
Cincinnati 20
North Florida 30 2nd Half
Florida 34
(14) Georgia 25 2nd Half
Seton Hall 33
Tennessee St 35 2nd Half
(12) Kentucky 47
American Univ 39 2nd Half 16:18
Wake Forest 48
Massachusetts 44 2nd Half
Boston U 32
Quinnipiac 36 2nd Half 19:16
Saint Josephs 34
Lafayette 31 2nd Half 13:53
Saint Peters 20
Northwestern 29 2nd Half
(20) Michigan State 22
Duquesne 37 2nd Half 20:00
Lehigh 35
George Washington 44 2nd Half 17:16
Loyola-Maryland 28
(17) Rutgers 28 2nd Half
Indiana 24
(24) Green Bay 42 2nd Half 20:00
Dayton 33
Western Mich 11 1st Half 9:57
Stony Brook 13
Davidson 26 1st Half 2:37
Virginia 34
UNC Greensboro 2:00 PM
LSU
Denver 2:00 PM
North Texas
VA Commonwealth 0 1st Half 20:00
Coppin State 0
Huston-Tillotson 2 1st Half 16:04
Houston Baptist 6
Lamar 3 1st Half 18:07
Rice 2
Miss Valley St 0 1st Half 20:00
Alabama 0
Saint Louis 0 1st Half 20:00
Eastern Illinois 0
Middle Tennessee 0 1st Half 20:00
Tenn Tech 0
Penn State 0 1st Half 20:00
(23) Iowa 0
Purdue 0 1st Half 18:55
Illinois 2
DePaul 2:05 PM
Illinois State
Sam Houston St 0 1st Half 19:04
Wichita State 5
South Dakota 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(4) Notre Dame 3:00 PM
UCLA
Coll of Charleston 3:00 PM
SC State
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Niagara
Colgate 3:00 PM
Siena
Michigan 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Yale 3:30 PM
(25) Arizona State
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
Louisiana
Eureka 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Cornell 5:00 PM
(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
Memphis

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close