Murdock files lawsuit against University
EAST HANOVER, N.J. — When Eric Murdock first came to the University’s athletic department in June 2012 with allegations that then-head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was abusing his players, the University did not take action, he said.
"Efforts to get Rutgers to address its problems were ignored for months," Murdock said. "Instead, I was removed from my position. That is wrong, and that is why I filed a lawsuit."
Dressed in a beige suit at the Hanover Manor today, Murdock made a brief statement to a room of reporters as he expressed how he felt about Rice's termination.
"Mike Rice's removal was long overdue, the first step to stopping the mistreatment of Rutgers student-athletes," Murdock said. "When Rutgers finds out about something wrong involving its students, they should act immediately."
Murdock filed a whistleblower lawsuit today against the University for what his lawyer, Barry Kozyra, said was a wrongful removal from his position as director of player development.
Kozyra said Murdock asked in June if he could be excused from Rice's independently-run basketball clinic, run by what Kozyra called "Mike Rice LLC", to be a guest speaker at Bridgewater High School, where his son attends.
When Rice declined, Murdock found a replacement at the clinic and went anyway, returning within the hour, Kozyra said.
Upon Murdock’s return, Rice told him to not continue with the clinic, Kozyra said.
During the same time period, Murdock made aware Rice’s mistreatment of players to the University.
Murdock claimed almost a month later that on July 11, 2012, he was wrongfully terminated.
"There is no rationale for having Mr. Murdock let go," Kozyra said. "Mr. Murdock advised them there were problems with the way Rice was handling the student-athletes, and days later he was informed that his promised contract he was going to receive was not going to be renewed."
Kozyra said players came to Murdock with complaints of Rice's mistreatments.
"That did happen," Kozyra said. "[But] I wouldn't want to compromise the privacy of those students who made those comments to Mr. Murdock at this time."
Murdock, who spent nine seasons in the NBA after he was drafted in the first round from Providence, maintained through his lawyers he did not reveal the tapes for financial reasons.
"[It] is clearly not true," Kozyra said when asked if the lawsuit was for financial gain. "Mr. Murdock acted without any motivation of money when he brought this to the attention of Rutgers in June 2012. It's Rutgers that didn't act. We provided the video to Rutgers in November to take appropriate action. Rutgers had the video since June. It's their video footage."
ESPN obtained the 30-minute DVD from Murdock Tuesday of Rice throwing basketballs, cursing and shoving his players.
The footage was presented on “Outside the Lines” and Murdock appeared on the program highlighting what Rice said and did during practices. Murdock said on the program Rice would act differently when Pernetti was around. When Pernetti was not present, Murdock said Rice would use profanity when his players did something wrong.
Kozyra mentioned in his opening statement Rutgers never acknowledged Murdock's hand in the revelations of Rice's treatment of his players.
Kozyra believed if Murdock never revealed the tapes, Rice could still be employed with the University.
"Frankly, if Rutgers is sincere about coming clean and doing what it has to do, it should recognize the person who brought this to its attention," Kozyra said. "If Mr. Murdock never brought this to their attention and lost his job for doing so, would this still be going on because no one bothered to look?"