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Mike Rice Firing: How Eric Murdock’s departure set off chain reaction

Apr 3, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT

Mike Rice AP

Here’s the sad part about Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice being fired: if video never surfaces, then he still has a job.

And why did the video surface?

Because whatever spat that Rice got into with former staff member Eric Murdock couldn’t be resolved cordially. Murdock did not have his contract renewed by the university, so he blew the whistle. He went to Rice’s boss and tried to get him fired. When that didn’t work, he went to Outside The Lines and made sure that the world saw the video, because if the world didn’t see the video, Rutgers was going to do nothing more than smack Rice on the wrist and sweep this under the rug.

I doubt Murdock ever gets a job coaching in the college ranks again. There’s a no snitching policy when it comes to coaches, and that’s why it took Bruce Pearl so long to climb the coaching ranks after he recorded a conversation between himself and a recruit that he lost out on. That’s why Abar Rouse, who blew the whistle on Baylor’s Dave Bliss, spent so long in coaching oblivion.

That’s the truly sad part here.

MORE: Rice isn’t the only coach who behaves this way

Because the details of what was on that tape wasn’t a secret. We all knew about it. When Rice was suspended for three games back in December, Brendan Prunty — who did a terrific job getting out in front of this story — of the Newark Star-Ledger reported that the punishment was the result of:

an internal investigation that revealed abusive, profane language used by Rice toward his players and an incident during his first or second season in which Rice threw basketballs at some players’ heads during practice.

Again, to reiterate, we knew about this!

Is there anything on the video that we watched on Outside The Lines that is different than what Prunty reported back in December? Or is the change in attitude simply the result of the fact that we all finally had a chance to see the video and react to it ourselves?

In the end, it’s the reaction to the video that got Rice fired and, in all likelihood, is going to get Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti fired.

MORE: Rights group expresses support for Rice’s firing

But the root cause for the firing?

Allowing Murdock to walk away angry.

Because if Murdock leaves the Rutgers happy, or if he is still employed by the university, Rice is still firing basketballs at his players.

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You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. LPad - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Honestly, Murdock shouldn’t get another job either because he didn’t leak this to protect the players but out of spite. Both Rice and Murdock and whoever else was on that coaching staff shouldn’t get another job. You can yell all you want, kick them out of practice, bench them in games, but you can’t throw stuff at them or smack them around.

    • alliebracker - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      I agree….The sad part about this entire situation is that neither Mike Rice nor Eric Murdock is innocent in this. Firstly if Eric was sooo concerned for the welfare of the team and the treatment, this should have been brought to the attention of the AD in the first year of Eric’s employment. It was only when Eric Murdock was dismissed (fired) that he then went to the AD to complain about the treatment and that he had video to back it up. Sad… but true it is always about money. Eric Murdock did this for his own personal gain, which was financial. He needed his job due to a lack of income and no benefits. As many typical athletes, he too pissed his money away, had to sell his large house and move back with his grandma and be supported by his live in girlfriend…REAL TALK…. He is poor and desperate.

    • deetrain11 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:08 AM

      This article is MISLEADING!! Murdock went to the AD last Nov. and Rice was suspended after that. But Murdock was rewarded for whistleblowing, with having his contract not being renewed…..aka FIRED. He didn’t go to the AD after being fired, he went before!

  2. topwonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Murdock is no hero in this either. He was perfectly willing to watch what happened and did not “blow the whistle” until after he was fired, as a vindictive act. Glad for everyone he did it, but he bears some responsibility. And, Tim Pernetti should be fired within the day for trying to cover up the abusive behavior. When will big time college athletics coaches and administrators learn not to cover up blatant wrongdoing and abuse, but address it and live up to their REAL responsibility as mentors and teachers of young people, and as human beings?

  3. bobby2478 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    How do you know he didn’t leak this so that the truth got out? When he complained about the conduct he obviously was concerned about the wellbeing of the students and felt the behavior was unacceptable. He figured the college would take care of it, after he was fired for complaining it was obvious they were trying to sweep it under the rug.

    He then went to the university one more time in order to not only get them to address the behavior, but also to voice concern he was improperly terminated for blowing the whistle. The college also sweeps this under the rug and does nothing.

    So he realizes the only way the college will stop the behavior and punish the coach for his treatment of students is to get evidence out in the media, as once people actually saw his behavior they’d realize it goes far beyond your typical coach swearing because he’s upset about something. Also, he’s legally protected as a whistleblower acting in good faith, and was wrongfully terminated for blowing the whistle in the first place.

    He gave the college multiple attempts to deal with the coach and his behavior, they chose not to and instead swept it under the rug. It was apparent after multiple tries the college would never take this seriously unless the public saw video evidence of the coaches behavior.

    So while concern about him being fired was part of his motivation, I wouldn’t be so sure he doesn’t care about the behavior. He spoke up and chose to russle feathers against a superior even though he knew it would cause problems for him. If he never cared he wouldn’t raise a stink in the first place.

  4. jlinatl - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Doesn’t the next investigation need to be on reason for Murdock’s firing. If it was related he should be reinstated by the school or reimbursed. If it was not related he better have a new career in mind because it will be very difficult to find another job in an AD office. I think it is important to know.

  5. jayedee369 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Okay, wait a minute….this guy goes through the proper channels to get this dude’s behavior in check and the AD does NOTHING! And Murdock is the bad guy??? I’m confused. He saw behavior that was affecting kids in a negative way and reports it to the AD Tim Pernetti. Tim Pernetti does some half assed bullshit investigation and slaps Rice on the wrist. Murdock goes back to Tim Pernetti and says hey, this guy should be fired what are you doing? He’s harming students! Tim Pernetti send Murdock packing. If Tim Pernetti did his job in the first place, Rice would have been fired in December and case closed. What are we teaching our kids, that if you care and blow the whistle, you will be shunned by society. Murdock did the right thing, in the right way and the wrong result happened. Rutgers firing isn’t done by a long shot, the AD should be handed his walking papers and any other high ranking college official who knew about this behavior and let it slide should be dealt with as well. There has to be a line drawn because no one’s kid should be put under this kind of treatment. EVER!

  6. topwonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    I agree – I may have spoken too soon about Mr. Murdock, basing my comments on the story above. The question is: Did Mr. Murdock get fired, and subsequently release the tapes, because he initially went to the school administration regarding the abusive behavior, as those supporting Mr. Murdock seem to believe? If that is the case, and hopefully it is, then yes, he had the right motive in doing what he did. If however, Mr. Murdock was fired over other issues, not involving the abusive behavior towards players, as the author of the column suggests, and Mr. Murdock only went public with the tapes sometime after he was fired and could not find work, then he is not so pure of motive. Either way, the school was right in ultimately firing Rice, and should fire the AD as well. And, we will need more info to clarify Mr. Murdock’s compliance or lack thereof with the abusive behavior.

  7. mrreece - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    @Topwonk – No need to clarify if Mr. Murdock was fired due to any sort of negligence or any other issues. Mr. Murdock was never fired. His contract was not renewed. Big difference. My guess; a civil suit will be coming down the pipe and this will not only cost Rutgers their reputation but money as well. It’ an unfortunate choice of words by the author of this article when he implies that he blew the whistle because his contract wasn’t renewed. In doing so he presented this part of the story as a sour grapes move when in fact, it was his final choice after previous steps were ignored.

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