Original post (see updates below): Tara Sullivan of New Jersey's The Record is reporting that Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti has been fired, adding to the list of those brought down by the scandal over their out-of-control basketball coach—a list that might soon include the president of the university. Head coach Mike Rice was fired earlier this week, after video surfaced of him physically and verbally abusing his players, including shoving several of them and throwing basketballs at their heads. Rice's assistant coach, Jimmy Martelli, resigned on Thursday after it revealed he was guilty of similar behavior. According to the report, Pernetti may be allowed to resign, depending on how the school plans to handle his contract, which still has a year remaining.
However, that didn't silence the anger directed not only at Rice, but at school administrators who seemed willing to do very little about it. Pernetti was not only aware of the now infamous videos, but he had personally seen them and (allegedly) chose not to share them with anyone else; not even the school's president. Pernetti chose to suspend Rice for three games back in December and fined him $50,000, and hoped that would be the end of it. Obviously, it would not be.
Now the school has responded to calls that Pernetti be dismissed as well. A graduate of Rutgers, Pernetti had orchestrated the school's recent move to the Big Ten, which is expected to be a major financial windfall for the athletic department and the school. Now he won't be around to enjoy the fruits of that labor.
The university president, Robert L. Barchi, who had already "alienated faculty, state legislators and the student body" in his first half-year on the job, is now facing added pressure from inside and out of the state school: "Maybe if the president was more tuned in, he would think that we have 58,000 students, 18 to 22 years old, and what exactly is happening? He is throwing balls at students' heads? And he’s calling them what? He was not interested in that," a Rutgers economics professor tells The New York Times.
UPDATE 1:00 P.M. Pernetti's dismissal is now official, as the school has released his resignation letter. We suppose that means that he technically was not fired, but it's clear that he's leaving against his will and also probably feels the he's been wronged by others at the university. Check out the key paragraph.
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.
Translation: "I was overruled by a bunch of suits, it backfired, and now they're throwing me under the bus." The Board of Governors says they won't ask the president of anyone else to resign, but we suspect this isn't the last we'll hear about this.