Just a couple hours after athletic director Tim Pernetti stepped down as a result of his handling of former head basketball coach Mike Rice’s behavior during practices, Rutgers president Robert L. Barchi met the press to offer his own explanation of the situation.
According to Barchi, who has received a public vote of confidence from the school’s board of governors, stated during the press conference that despite hearing about the video back in November he did not see the footage until this week.
“This was a failure of process. I regret that I did not ask to see this video when Tim first told me of its existence,” Barchi said, according to the Associated Press. “I want to apologize to the entire Rutgers community for the negative impact that this situation has had on Rutgers.
“I also apologize to the LGBT community and all of us who share their values for the homophobic slurs shown on that video. I personally know how hurtful that language can be.”
Pernetti, 42, is a Rutgers graduate who played football at the school and was a driving force behind its impending move from the Big East to the Big Ten.
Barchi’s position appears to be safe. Ralph Izzo, chairman of the school’s board of directors said “at the end of the day, he has to run this place, day in and day out. And I think he is the right person to run this place for many years to come.”
In the video both Rice and former assistant coach Jimmy Martelli can be seen berating and shoving players during practice, and both were also witnessed throwing basketballs at players. Barchi stated that he agreed with Pernetti’s decision back in December to suspend Rice for his actions, but changed his mind once he saw video of the coach’s transgressions.
In his letter of resignation Pernetti stated that he originally wanted to fire Rice, however after consulting with legal counsel the consensus was that “university policy would not justify dismissal.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also issued a statement on the day’s events:
“The decision today by Athletic Director Tim Pernetti to resign is appropriate and necessary given the events of the past six months. I commend President Barchi for his decisive leadership in coming to an agreement with Mr. Pernetti to have the Athletic Department of Rutgers University come under new leadership.
“This entire incident was regrettable and while it has damaged the reputation of our state University, we need to move forward now on a number of fronts which provide great opportunities for Rutgers’ future. Completing the ground-breaking merger agreement with UMDNJ. Preparing for our academic and athletic entry into the Big 10 conference. Implementing Rutgers’ share of New Jersey’s $1.3 billion capital commitment to higher education. Finally, conducting a national search for a new athletic director and a new men’s basketball coach for athletic competition next year and in 2014 for our entry to the Big 10.
Rice’s behavior initially came to light due to allegations made by former director of basketball development Eric Murdock, who filed a wrongful termination suit against the school on Friday in state court. He claims the university violated the state’s employee protection act and his contract. His contract wasn’t renewed in July.