Tim Pernetti resigns as Rutgers athletic director

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By Friday morning, nearly 3,000 people had joined a Facebook site calling for the university to keep him, several accusing the media and politicians of a witch hunt. Former Rutgers football players including Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed during a game in 2010, were among those campaigning for Pernetti.

On Thursday, assistant coach Jimmy Martelli resigned.

Pernetti’s finest hour may have been when he helped in the school’s move to the Big Ten Conference, which means millions in additional revenue by way of television contracts and more national exposure, especially in football. The move, which becomes official in 2014, should provide a big boost to the program in recruiting and season ticket sales. The Scarlet Knights will continue to play next season in the Big East.

Pernetti’s first major move as athletic director came in May 2010, when he hired the volatile Rice away from Robert Morris, which he took to two NCAA tournament appearances.

“He convinced me he understood his reputation, but he also understood where the line was,” Pernetti said, referring to Rice. “I made clear to him if he crossed the line he would be held accountable.”

The move might have been too soon for a coach like Rice, and clearly Pernetti took a serious risk. After all, most Big East coaches do not land there immediately after stops in the Northeast Conference, but Rutgers and Pernetti looked at Rice and saw the man who could turn the perennially underachieving program around.

It never happened. Rice went 44-51 in three years and posted a 16-38 mark in the Big East after going 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season, including 5-13 in the league, and questions about Rice’s status _ based on wins and losses alone _ began to surface.

But Pernetti again made a questionable decision. Given what he knew about the video, and taking Rice’s record into consideration, he still gave the coach a public endorsement at season’s end.

“Of course he’s coming back,” Pernetti said at the time. “It’s been an interesting year to say the least, and while I think in one case some of the progress _ and there’s been a lot of progress _ doesn’t show, and that’s in the win-loss column. I would like it to show there. I think everyone in the program would. But you can definitely see us getting better.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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