Rutgers University’s athletic director stepped down on Friday, two days after the university fired its head men’s basketball coach amid a scandal that erupted when a video of the coach abusing his players during practice went public. The video prompted widespread outrage and calls for both men to be dismissed.
The athletic director, Tim Pernetti, said in a written statement that he had quit his post “reluctantly,” but called his tenure “no longer sustainable” in the face of the growing controversy. The university on Wednesday fired the coach, Mike Rice, after a video of him shoving his players, hurling balls at them, and shouting antigay slurs went viral online.
Mr. Rice’s use of gay insults touched a nerve at Rutgers and cast a spotlight on Robert L. Barchi, the university’s president. The coach had previously been suspended for three games and fined for his conduct, but Mr. Barchi said on Wednesday that after he viewed the video, it was clear Mr. Rice could not continue to serve as the head coach.
In his statement on Friday, Mr. Pernetti said his first instinct upon seeing the video was to fire Mr. Rice immediately, but following the review of an independent report, “the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal.”
Mr. Pernetti said he had admitted his role in, and regret for, the previous decision only to suspend Mr. Rice, asserting that he wished he could have had “the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved.” He added that he trusted his tenure as athletic director would not be “judged by this one incident.”
Mr. Barchi called the incident a “failure of process” in his remarks at a news conference on Friday. He also apologized to the athletes who had been harmed, as well as the university’s gay community, for the coach’s behavior, which he said the video showed him was “much more abusive and pervasive than I had understood it to be.”
He called Mr. Pernetti’s decision to try to rehabilitate the coach a wrong one, and said that while he applauded the athletic director for his “frank” assessment of the matter, “it is clear to me and to everyone who has seen the video just how egregious the offenses were and how out of keeping with the Rutgers community’s values they were.”Return to Top