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Report: FBI investigating possible extortion by Rutgers whistle-blower Eric Murdock

Apr 7, 2013, 10:26 AM EDT

Eric Murdock AP

The FBI has reportedly launched an investigation to examine whether former Rutgers staffer Eric Murdock, the man who leaked videotapes that ultimately led to the firing of coach Mike Rice, tried to extort his former employer.

According to a report in the New York TimesMurdock’s lawyer sent a letter to the university with a request for $950,000 that came two weeks after Rice was suspended in December for his practice behavior. The university declined to pay the money demanded in the letter and Murdock leaked the practice footage to the media.

The video footage of Rice grabbing and kicking his players, as well as yelling homophobic slurs and throwing basketballs at them, has led to the resignation or firing of no less than four Rutgers officials, according to the report.

In the wake of his departure from Rutgers, Murdock filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university and a number of officials there. The university claims his contract was not renewed for reasons that did not include his status as a whistle-blower and instead because “he left Rice’s basketball camp early and without permission, among other factors,” according to the report.

From the New York Times:

James Tareco, a special agent with the F.B.I., visited [former Rutgers AD Tim] Pernetti’s office and other locations at Rutgers, the university official said.

The investigation, which is being led by the F.B.I. office in Newark, is in its early stages. A spokeswoman for the F.B.I. said that following policy, she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. j0esixpack - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    It would be sad and ironic if the one guy who tried to stop the abuse of college kids winds up being viewed as the bad guy.

    If I’m ever in a similar situation I’ll be sure to file a lawsuit immediately for fear that any talk of an out of court settlement will result in charges of extortion.

    If Rutgers hadn’t pulled a Penn State regarding abuse, and not only turned a blind eye but fired the whistleblower, this alleged “extortion” would not be possible.

    • polegojim - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Yes Joe… but we’ll see if Murdock’s intentions were noble as is protection…. or as in $ opportunity.

      Either way, the result was proper by firing coach and AD… but, it would sad that the correction started via greed and not honor.

  2. sabatimus - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Man, all these college corruptions, abuses, cheatings…and now the whistleblower may be guilty of extortion? College certainly doesn’t fix stupid, now does it?

  3. tubal22 - Apr 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    This guy used to play for the Utah Jazz.

  4. dinkydow - Apr 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Why would Murdock’s lawyer send a letter? He’d be a party to the extortion. I’m thinking someone at Rutgers asked Murdock what would it cost to keep this quiet and Murdock went to his lawyer and they tried to cash in but his price was too high for Rutgers. Still, if what I wrote is true, it makes Murdock into a bad guy.

    • jsm11 - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:52 PM

      Yeah, who would send a letter and have proof of the alleged deal making? This is better than those reality shows!

    • amecass - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:00 AM

      I dont think it was extortion as Rutgers is trying to play it. As with most alleged wrongful termination cases, the atty will seek some sort of settlement BEFORE filing a lawsuit. Now in addition to wrongful termination and retaliation, defamation/slander may be added.

  5. akirchstein - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    The plot only thickens in this case. They would have not cleaned house at Rutgers if there had not been more scandal to hit the papers in the house. I am curious to see what the NCAA has to say about this case at the end of the day.

  6. egomaniac247 - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    If he wanted money, he went the wrong avenue. Call up ESPN or NBC or CNN and tell them what you have. They’d pay for it to be the first to break the story.

  7. spey84spey84 - Apr 7, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    ..wonder who will get the ‘check mate’ in the after math of this all nonsense. Entertainment gone awry…
    I think they should know better than to go after the whistle-blower

  8. sailbum7 - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Why does this not surprise me!!! I have no doubt that the charges of attempted extortion are true. If this guy was going to do something about the coaches behavior for altruistic reasons he would have reported it long ago while he was still working there. He ended up getting let go for other reasons and tried to extort a little going away money from the university. When they refused to pay he leaked the video out of spite for their letting him go. There was no atruism involved here, just money and spiteful revenge.

    • j0esixpack - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Um… he did report it, back before he was fired in July – at least according to his attorney.

      That’s the nature of the wrongful termination. That he was fired BECAUSE he reported it.

      Later he supposedly showed them the tape. When they still took no action he then shared it with the media – and only then did they take action against Rice.

  9. Pastor Benjamen S. Long - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    …I hope this “loser” gets the book thrown at him. These “get rich quick, or get fired trying” , make a buck any way you can thieves make me crazy. Instead of acting “morally”, and reporting this ex-coach, he sought to profit…FIRST.

  10. eagles512 - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Was wondering why this wasn’t happening earlier. Sure sounded like blackmail from the beginning.

  11. bbk1000 - Apr 8, 2013 at 5:59 AM

    I heard more than one source intimate this guy said he’d show the tape if he wasn’t kept on the staff….

  12. qdog112 - Apr 8, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    What extortion? Every attempt to settle a labor dispute or civil disagreement, starts with a demand letter. Murdock was fired and he threatened further action if his demand was not met. That is negotiating 101.

    This is boilerplate. The question I have is, are there tapes from Robert Morris?

  13. ningenito78 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Wow. Lots of morons on the comment section today. This is extortion. Plain and simple. First off, Murdoch wasn’t ‘fired’. His contractual obligations were met and he wasn’t given a new contract. With regards to the reason for this, he was told by Rice he was not to attend a basketball camp competing with a RU camp and did so anyway. That alone possibly could have allowed RU to terminate the contract for cause/insubordination if there was such a term in the contract. Second, if he was a ‘hero’ then why did he not release the footage when he first obtained it in order to save the poor ‘victims’ at the hands of Mike Rice? That tape was his payday and revenge. Plain and simple. He told RU he would release a tape he knew would ruin people’s careers if he wasn’t given a monetary pay out. That’s blackmail. The very definition of it. Once RU told him to go hug nuts he hit the nuclear button. Extortion. The guy is a two bit scumbag. So for all you that think he’s some sort of hero I feel sorry for your children of that’s the kind of behavior you see as heroic.

  14. ningenito78 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    @qdog112- if you think that’s ‘negotiating 101′ I hope you never have to find contractual work to feed your family.

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