Tim Pernetti resigns as Rutgers athletic director

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Tim Pernetti resigned as Rutgers athletic director on Friday, two days after the basketball coach he hired was dismissed for abusive behavior during practices _ actions that prompted nationwide outrage once a video went public.

In a letter of resignation sent to university president Robert Barchi, Pernetti said he hoped that his tenure at Rutgers “will not be judged by this one incident.”

When he first saw the video of Rice pushing, shoving and throwing balls at players in November, Pernetti said he wanted to fire him on the spot. However, he said the consensus among school officials at the time was the actions didn’t call for dismissal.

The video was broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, showing numerous clips of Rice at practice firing basketballs at players, grabbing them by their jerseys and yelling obscenities in addition to gay slurs.

At a campus news conference Friday, Barchi said he first saw the video this week, but was aware it existed in late November. He said Pernetti gave him a summary of what was on the Rice video at the time.

“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. “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 LGBTQ 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.”

Based on the summary he received from Pernetti, Barchi said he “agreed with and supported his recommendation to suspend, rather than fire, coach Rice at that time. It was not until Tuesday evening of this week, when I watched the video, that I had the opportunity to witness personally for the first time what Tim had seen last fall.”

“I was deeply disturbed by the behavior that the video revealed, which was much more abusive and pervasive than I had understood it to be. As Tim acknowledged on Wednesday, his decision to rehabilitate, rather than fire, coach Rice was wrong.”

Also resigning Friday was John B. Wolf, Rutgers‘ interim senior vice president and general counsel who is believed to have recommended against firing Rice in December.

Pernetti said in his resignation letter to Barchi that he has “spent a great deal of time reflecting on the events which led to today. As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice’s behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel.

“Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved,” it said.

Pernetti was given the video by a former employee, Eric Murdock. With Barchi’s approval, he suspended Rice for three games, fined and docked him pay totaling $75,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes.

The 42-year-old Pernetti is a Rutgers graduate who played tight end for the Scarlet Knights from 1989-93.

Before Pernetti’s resignation, there was an outcry from Rutgers faculty and state legislators not only for his ouster but for Barchi’s as well.

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