Rutgers basketball scandal brings down AD Pernetti

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Two of Rutgers‘ leading donors have threatened to cut their contributions in the wake of Pernetti’s resignation.

Tom Mendiburu, whose High Point Solutions paid $6 million for the naming rights to the university’s football stadium, tweeted that he was concerned because he made the deal because of Pernetti.

“We’ve invested so much into (hash)RU and now I’m not even sure who we turn to. Very sad day and I’m sorry Pernetti had to go through this,” he tweeted.

Mendiburu said a lot of people are asking him what he is going to do and he wasn’t sure.

The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Daniel Wheeler, a founding member of the Society of Queens College, where membership requires a minimum of $1 million donated over a lifetime, was upset Rutgers ignored prominent donors’ pleas to keep Pernetti.

“I won’t say numbers, but I’ve given over seven figures, and like a lot of people who have done the same, I support Tim Pernetti,” Wheeler told the newspaper.

Pernetti, who hired Rice in 2010, viewed him as the man who could turn the perennially underachieving program around. But Rice went 44-51 in three years and posted a 16-38 mark in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season, including 5-13 in the league. They have not been to the NCAA tournament since 1991.

Barchi said Rice was not fired for cause. Under his contract, that means he’s owed just over $1 million for the next two years at 75 percent of his contract amount, plus another $100,000 for completing the 2012-13 season as coach.

Also resigning was John B. Wolf, Rutgers‘ interim senior vice president and general counsel, who is believed to have recommended against firing Rice in December over the video. On Thursday, the school said assistant coach Jimmy Martelli had resigned.

Pernetti was given the video by a former employee, Eric Murdock, and the decision was made in December to suspend Rice for three games, fine and dock him pay totaling $75,000 and order him to attend anger management classes.

Murdock filed a whistleblower lawsuit Friday, alleging Rutgers violated the state’s employee protection act and his contract. He said he wrote to the university in July about Rice’s “unlawful conduct,” and gave the university the video in November.

“Despite having been in possession of such video footage, the university and its representatives inexplicably chose to ignore Defendant Rice’s unlawful conduct,” the lawsuit said.

Rutgers officials, including Barchi, declined to comment about the lawsuit.

Murdock, who played in the NBA for nine seasons, was the director of player of development for the program. His contract wasn’t renewed in July.

He said he was let go after a dispute with Rice about skipping the coach’s youth basketball camp and, ultimately, because he complained to university officials about Rice’s mistreatment of players.

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