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Rutgers Basketball Scandal: Why Did Rutgers Not Allow Tim Pernetti to Fire Coach Mike Rice In 2012?

By Kahlil Thomas - Posted: 04/08/13 03:39PM UTC
Mike Rice

The specter of former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice still hangs over the school as the university is set to begin a internal investigation into the handling of the events that led to Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti's demise at the school. (Photo: Reuters)

Rutgers University announced on Monday that they will commission an independent review into the behavior of conduct of former basketball coach Mike Rice and how the university handled the events that led to Rice's firing and the resignation of athletic Tim Pernetti.

A video of Rice throwing basketballs, pushing and cursing at players surfaced last week. Pernetti saw the video in November 2012 and decided to suspend Rice for three games and fine him $50,000 for his transgressions. Since the resignation of Pernetti on Friday, many more people have called for the job of Rutgers president Robert Barchi. Barchi, who told media members last week that he just watched the tape after it was released to the public last week, signed off on the original punishment for Rice. Rutgers' board of governors and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have showed support for Barchi, who will face a barrage of questions at a question and answer session at Rutgers' Newark campus on Monday.

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According to Deadspin, Pernetti said that he wanted to fire the basketball coach after watching the tape of Rice at practice. The problem was that Rutgers would not let Pernetti do it. The following quote is from Pernetti's resignation letter that was addressed to university president Barchi:

"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 follows a process involving university lawyers, human resource professionals and outside counsel. Following reviews of the independent investigative reports, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal."

In other news, FBI special agent James Tareco was on the Rutgers campus last week asking questions about former director of player development Eric Murdock. Murdock filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against Rutgers on Friday but he is being investigated for a possible extortion attempt.

As reported originally on WFAN Radio in New York and other sources, Murdock's attorney, Barry A. Kozyra, sent a letter to the university two weeks after Rice's suspension in November. The letter was asking for $950,000 as a settlement for Murdock's wrongful termination claims. Since the university did not pay the settlement amount to Murdock, many believe that is the reason Murdock released the videotape to ESPN which started the chain of events at the New Jersey university.

Rice's former employer at Robert Morris University is in the process of examining whether Rice used abusive tactics during his four years at the school. Murdock claims that he was told there were five coaches-versus-players brawls at Robert Morris during Rice's coaching tenure there.

Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman has not spoken out on the Rice scandal and whether his behavior occurred at Robert Morris. The school is planning a press conference this week to discuss their findings from their own internal investigation of Rice's time coaching the Colonials.

The questions will continue however for Rutgers and university president Barchi. The question remains whether Barchi will still be president of Rutgers when the smoke clears.

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