Pernetti out at Rutgers days after Rice video's circulation
Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resigned this morning under pressure from University administration and outside parties, University President Robert L. Barchi announced this afternoon.
"I recognize and understand the gravity of recent developments with the men's basketball program," said Barchi, who will appoint an interim athletic director within the next few days. "I want to personally apologize to the entire Rutgers community for the negative impact this situation has had."
Barchi will not resign and refuted the impact of the weight of outside criticism on his decision to fire University head men's basketball coach Mike Rice. He said his appointment is at the will of the University Board of Governors.
Ralph Izzo, head of the Board of Governors, endorsed Barchi.
Pernetti’s departure, which Barchi said was a mutual decision, is the latest in a series of public announcements in the wake of a 30-minute compilation video that led to the Wednesday firing of Rice and Thursday resignation of assistant coach Jimmy Martelli.
The video, which first surfaced through the University’s athletic department Tuesday, shows Rice using profane language and abusive physical behavior during practice through a two-year period.
"I did not see anything in the video when I actually reviewed it that was out of keeping with what I was told," said Barchi, who did not disclose details of Pernetti's buyout. "What I did see was pervasive behavior ... that went beyond any threshold I understood."
Pernetti released a letter through the Rutgers athletic department shortly before Barchi's press conference, saying he initially planned to fire Rice. But University policy, Pernetti writes, did not justify Rice's dismissal, and the University went forward with an independent investigation, conducted by John Lacey of Connell Foley LLP.
"My first instincts when I saw the video of Coach Rice was to fire him immediately," Pernetti writes.
Barchi did not know Pernetti expressed initial reservation about keeping Rice until recently.
Instead, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games and fined him $75,000 on Dec. 13 following Lacey's findings. The Board of Governors met Dec. 14 and Izzo said that video from practices was reviewed in some capacity.
Its committee on athletics did not immediately report out information on Rice's conduct that day, Izzo said.
"I was never once told the exact nature of the comments," Izzo said. "To this minute, I have only seen two-minute clips from the video."
Pernetti reinstated Rice on Dec. 29 on a number of stipulations, including that Rice would undergo sports counseling.
Pernetti said Tuesday that Barchi had seen the controversial video, compiled by former Director of Player Development Eric Murdock's attorneys. But a University official said Wednesday that Barchi saw it for the first time Tuesday at 10 p.m. — not during the two-week investigation that began Nov. 27.
Barchi said he did not review a letter from Murdock to the athletic department surrounding a potential $950,000 out-of-court settlement.
"What I heard is that my chief counsel was there and looking at it and giving his expert opinion," Barchi said of the video. "This is a very large organization. You do look to your direct reports for their expert advice. My view of the world would have been extremely different [had I seen the video]."
Pernetti handed a copy of the DVD to Barchi on Tuesday morning. Following an initial viewing, Barchi told Pernetti that Rice must must be fired.
"[Pernetti] said [Rice] would be fired by the morning," Barch said.
Barchi announced Rice’s firing via a public statement, reportedly after witnessing the video for the first time. Barchi said he reviewed a comprehensive report from Pernetti about the investigations findings and apologized for not seeing the video until Tuesday.
Calls for Pernetti’s ousting grew stronger following the video’s circulation through ESPN’s Outside the Lines, and several University professors passed out a petition Wednesday calling for Pernetti and Barchi’s resignation.
Pernetti, who began his tenure during the 2009-2010 academic year, earned national acclaim Nov. 20, when the University announced a move to the Big Ten after years of posturing. Barchi called it a "perfect fit", but the University's men's basketball program would come under investigation a week later.
Pernetti was one of five athletic directors nominated as finalists for Athletic Director of the Year from the SportsBusiness Journal.
"In Tim's case, I think one of the aspects that makes this so difficult is because Tim has done an awful lot for this University," Barchi said. "But unfortunately, it's that one major decision you make right now ... [that determines] if you can be an effective leader."
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