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Tim Pernetti out as Rutgers athletic director

Apr 5, 2013, 10:31 AM EDT

Tim Pernetti AP

In mid-November Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti seemed to have taken the final step in transforming the athletic department, as it was announced that the school would join the Big Ten.

But the original punishment handed to men’s basketball coach Mike Rice the following month in regards to Rice’s abusive behavior at practices would ultimately lead to a major shift at the school.

Just two days after firing Rice, Pernetti finds himself on the chopping block as he was removed from his position Friday morning according to multiple reports. WNBC’s Bruce Beck confirmed the report.

Pernetti suspended Rice three games, fined him $75,000 and required him to undergo sensitivity training due to actions such as throwing basketballs at players, shoving them and using abusive language.

But once video footage of Rice’s behavior went public it became clear that the punishment did not fit the crime, leading to school faculty and state politicians calling for immediate action.

As a result Rutgers is in search of both a basketball coach and an athletic director, and with the heat being applied to president Robert L. Barchi this week who knows if more heads end up rolling before the school can turn the corner.

The move to fire Pernetti is unlikely to be received well by some prominent boosters and alumni, which will only add to the turmoil surrounding the program as Rutgers prepares to join the Big Ten in 2014.

Pernetti’s dismissal is sure to spark fury among Rutgers boosters, sports fans and prominent alumni like Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and paralyzed football player Eric LeGrand, both of whom lent their names to a growing grassroots movement to save the embattled administrator. In the immediacy, it throws the men’s basketball program into turmoil; a player exodus could occur as the search for a new coach is delayed, and Pernetti was spearheading a much-needed renovation of the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

Given how much work needed to be done with the basketball program in regards to both needed facilities upgrades and the struggling on-court product, this is a very bad time for Rutgers (understatement).

And the longer this entire situation plays out, the tougher the task of turning around Rutgers basketball gets for the next head coach.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. patthehockeyfan - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    3 down. One to go.

  2. sdelmonte - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Rutgers should not be going to the Big Ten. Heck, it would be wise to drop to Division II and start over clean.

  3. goirishgo - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    The B1G wants Rutgers as a member to gain access to the NY/NJ television market for the B1G Network. This boondoggle doesn’t change that.

  4. mogogo1 - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    A stunning fall. He doesn’t even get to see them compete in the Big 10. And the irony is that since Rice wasn’t winning, Pernetti could have jettisoned him with zero repercussions. I’m sure he’s now wishing he’d have done that.

    The $75,000 fine was actually pretty substantial, but the 3-game suspension and sensitivity training were a joke. The question I haven’t heard answered is whether Pernetti actually saw that same video that ESPN ran. It was shot by the school, apparently, so you’d think he would have, but I’m still finding it hard to believe anybody could watch that and come away thinking “sensitivity training” was going to fix anything.

  5. potatoesogrady - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    That he was advised by the president and legal team makes this pretty gross if the firings stop here. Pernetti certainly opened himself up to this end by not standing up to do the right thing, even if it does reflect a very human bystander instinct. RU needs to clean house all the way to the top now, everyone with a hand in Rice’s lax punishment needs to go if Pernetti does.

  6. lrg51 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Quote from Inside Higher Ed…

    “Recent articles in USA Today and Bloomberg News revealed that Rutgers has driven athletic spending to unprecedented levels, higher than any public institution in the six biggest football conferences, with institutional subsidies making up a full 40 percent of the athletic department’s budget, more than at any other public university. Department spending increased from $41 million in 2006 to $64 million in 2010, while revenue grew from $21 million to $37 million.

    On Friday the Rutgers faculty union responded to the news articles by calling on the board to rethink subsidizing athletics at $27 million a year (totaling $115 million since 2006, USA Today reported) at a time when salary freezes are in effect for faculty.”

    Seems like this incident with coach Rice and the AD is just the tip if the Rutgers Athletic iceberg.

    Read more:
    Inside Higher Ed

  7. sinclair7 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    This high profile incident and firing sets an example for the sportsworld everywhere. Fire and hire is short term just like a basketball season and sports’ fans mentalities. Finding a new college president takes more time but it will be well worth it in the long run.

  8. rayburns - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    This was inevitable, but was also an attempt to stop the landslide before it engulfs President Barchi as well. It would be interesting to see if part of Pernetti’s buyoff includes non-disclosure as to when Barchi first saw the tapes. If Barchi can say that he didn’t see the tapes until this week, then he has some plausible deniability (although people could say truthfully what sort of President hearing allegations like that doesn’t look at the tapes when they first were made available).

    We live in interesting times.

  9. mungman69 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    The school board has to take a long look at this whole situation because a lot of money is flowing down the drain.

  10. ningenito78 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Irg51- old news. The B1G television money fixes the deficit, which is why RU wanted it so bad. Pernetti may not have done enough, in hindsight. But he did something. He didn’t ignore it or sweep it under the rug despite what the media is saying now. Way back when the suspension happened Pernetti made it clear it was due to abusive behavior toward players and was not acceptable. For whatever the reason, likely because it was Rutgers basketball, the media didn’t pick up on it. Now, via extortion, the video becomes available to the public and the outrage begins. The idea Barchi just saw the tape this week is absolute bullsh-t. Despite what everybody believes Pernetti is now a victim (everybodys favorite word in 2013) of wrongful termination and I hope he nails Rutgers ass to the wall over this. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, only the court of public opinion decided it was inadequate. And public opinion is correct. But this idea it was a ‘cover up’ is a crock of sh-t. I’m shocked that with the hard on the Star Ledger has for the RU athletic department they didn’t run with the story when it first came out, but the didn’t. If RU just hired a PR firm and heard the ‘one week rule’ this would have blown over and Pernetti could have remained on the job. Instead, as the post above stated, this is all about stemming the landslide heading toward Brachi. It’s all a goddamn shame.

  11. boots44 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Maybe tannenbaum can put a good word in for him

  12. daniel10017 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    How about a return of Bobby Gonzales in the coaching ranks? Perhaps he learned his lessons after his big screw up at Seton Hall

  13. klownboy - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I guess that didn’t take too long to fire the AD. The question is, how many other ADs are sweeping stuff like this under the rug – or worse, presidents who continuously undercut them?

  14. jpopejoy - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Nengenito78…dead on

    If we’ve learned anything it’s that if you complain loudly enough, you get your way, regardless of how misguided your rage is.

    This guy has done a ton for RU and opted to give rehab/second chance over firing. Just because Jay Bilas didn’t know about it doesn’t mean it was swept under the rug and a coverup.

  15. john316459 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    When are these guys going to wake up? Penn State was simply the beginning. No one tolerates abuse and injustice in athletics anymore.

  16. rayburns - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    An interesting thought, the $75,000 ‘fine’ that was imposed on Rice, if you choose to look at it this way, was actually a reduction in his bonus from $100,000 to $25,000.

  17. florida727 - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Serious question: what do guys like Pernetti and Rice do for a job now? You or I get fired from our job, we go find another job. This is so specialized and close-knit, where the heck do they go to find work? What college or four-letter TV network will touch them knowing this is part of their past? On the one hand I feel sorry for them, on the other hand, they brought it on themselves, so it’s hard to generate too much sympathy considering how they treated those kids. Friend of mine reminded me: if you’re looking for “sympathy”, it’s in the dictionary… right between sh*t and syphilis. Glad I’m not them…

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 6, 2013 at 8:17 AM

      Agreed. Pernetti might have an easier time of it – given his resignation letter. He knew what had to be done with Rice, and he was overruled.

      As to Rice, as I wrote in another unconnected post, the abused are generally more likely to become abusers. My guess is that he learned the sport of basketball much in the same way he was ‘teaching’ it. He had a successful career, and probably believed that he was readying his athletes correctly so that they could also have a successful career.

      It’s a sad situation, and, while I believe what Rice did was wrong, I feel sorry for him too. As to his future, he won’t get another job in college athletics. Maybe Europe?

  18. philliephaninva - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Now the president needs to go.

  19. xxenosixx - Apr 6, 2013 at 8:20 AM


    This is what was sent to Dr. Barchi and not the BS he was reading in the video!!! This was released 5 minutes before the scheduled press conference and the reason it was delayed 30 minutes.

    April 5, 2013

    Dr. Robert L. Barchi, President
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    83 Somerset Street
    New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281

    Dear Dr. Barchi:
    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. I do so reluctantly because I always have and always will love Rutgers. I want to thank the people who have supported me throughout my years as a student-athlete and Athletic Director and help them understand my reasoning in this situation.

    My continued tenure as Athletic Director is no longer sustainable for the University which I attended and where a piece of me will always remain. 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.

    I trust that my tenure at Rutgers will not be judged by this one incident. I am proud of my efforts to lead Rutgers into the Big Ten, and of all of the accomplishments of our student-athletes in the classroom and on the field of play. I want to thank our great fans, the hardest working staff in collegiate athletics, and every one of our fine student-athletes. It has been my great pleasure to serve my alma mater.

    Tim Pernetti
    Class of 1993

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