Tim Pernetti

What is next for the Rutgers administration in wake of Mike Rice’s firing? (VIDEO)

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Once the state’s governor goes as far to release a statement regarding the coaching situation at a school, it’s all but done. When that governor is Chris Christie, a man with a good deal of national visibility, it’s really done.

Rutgers fired head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice Wednesday morning after video leaked to the press that showed the him grabbing and pushing players, as well as using profane language that included a homophobic slur. The move prompted a nod of approval from Christie’s office, via his Twitter account.

But there is one overriding problem that remains in this situation. The man guilty of the acts themselves is gone, but what about athletic director Tim Pernetti? Pernetti was the one who found Rice’s suspension early in the season satisfactory enough and, had this video not leaked or had whistleblower Eric Murdock not left the program, Rice might still have his job today.

“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Pernetti said in a statement Wednesday. “Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community.”

This was not an isolated incident, like the shove we know of that happened between Mike Montgomery and Allen Crabbe earlier this season at California. The tape leaked Tuesday at Rutgers showed a pattern of behavior over a period of time.

The question will ultimately come down to how much accountability there is within that particular program. Should the four-month delay between the evidence of the wrongdoing and firing of Rice be enough to oust Pernetti as well? Does it even go higher up the chain of command beyond him?

With that in mind, there appears to be a contradiction in what Rutgers president Robert Barchi has said about the timing of when he viewed the tape:

“Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior,” Barchi said, as reported by NJ.com. “I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability.”

That runs contradictory to this question to Pernetti, via NJ.com:

Q. Has Rutgers president Robert Barchi seen the tape – and if not, has he been made aware of everything that’s on it?
A. “Yes and yes. President Barchi and I worked closely together when this issue came up. We worked closely together with members of the board. He’s a lot like me. We deal with everything in the wide open. We had the same concerns but we felt strongly that the actions that we took was important to take and deal with it.”

Rutgers has not released any specific statements about the job status of Pernetti yet, but the old adage rings true again in this situation. The coverup is typically worse than the crime. Had Pernetti and Rutgers officials fired Rice at the time of the initial viewing of the tape, the public might have slapped them on the wrist for not knowing about the events at practice sooner and it would have been Big East and college basketball news.

But now, with the national spotlight focused upon them, Pernetti and Rutgers have to answer questions about how they viewed that footage and came to the conclusion that a suspension was enough and the incidents depicted merited no further action. And that is not an easy one to answer at this point.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)