While there is the desire of many associated with the Rutgers basketball program to move forward, the fact of the matter remains that the controversy that led to the firing of Mike Rice will continue to hover for the foreseeable future.
Why? Because the lawsuit filed by former staffer Eric Murdock is still active, with Murdock seeking compensation for his dismissal from the program in 2012. And in a story by The Chronicle of Higher Education, there is audio of Murdock claiming that Rice treated his players “like slaves” and also discussing what action (or lack thereof) was taken by the coaching staff.
In an 11-minute, profanity-laced rant, which was secretly recorded by an assistant coach and reviewed as part of a Rutgers investigation of abuse allegations, Mr. Murdock described the staff’s unsuccessful efforts to rein in their volatile boss over the preceding two years. But the head coach, Mr. Murdock asserted, was still treating players “like slaves.”
“Just cracking the whip,” Mr. Murdock says on the recording, which The Chronicle obtained through a public-records request. “That’s all you’re doing. You’re cracking the whip.” And, he continues, when a player “can’t deliver you cut his toe off like … Kunta Kinte.”
Murdock, who spent two seasons as Rutgers’ director of player development, claimed in the suit that he was wrongfully terminated while the school says that insubordination was the reason for his dismissal.
This situation shouldn’t have much of an impact (if any) on new head coach Eddie Jordan. The questions that parents of prospective student-athletes will have when it comes to how their players will be treated will still be there, and the Rutgers coaching staff will likely have to deal with negative recruiting tactics as well.
But with Murdock’s suit still unresolved, the audio doesn’t help matters for an athletic department that has already shelled out millions of dollars as a result of this fiasco.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.