Ex-Rutgers athletic director gets $1.1M payout after coach scandal
(CNN) — Rutgers University will pay former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti more than $1.1 million after his resignation in the wake of a scandal involving the videotaped abuse of basketball players by the team’s former coach.
CNN obtained the terms of Pernetti’s separation package through a New Jersey Open Public Records Act request after Rutgers and Pernetti had agreed to keep the terms confidential.
The state university will pay Pernetti his annual $453,000 salary through June 30, 2014. In addition, he will get a lump sum equal to 18 months of salary — $679,500 — payable by next month, according to the agreement.
In addition, Rutgers will provide health and pension benefits to Pernetti through October 2015 and will continue paying an automobile stipend through June 2014, the agreement states. Also, he remains eligible for up to $50,000 in bonuses based on the school’s athletic, academic and financial successes through June 2014, according to the deal.
Rutgers and Pernetti agreed to a “mutual release of all claims,” and to avoid making disparaging remarks about each other.
Pernetti resigned Friday, saying he initially went against his “first instincts” last year by not pushing the school to fire men’s basketball coach Mike Rice over video that showed Rice shoving and berating players during practice.
The video — provided to Rutgers officials by the team’s onetime player development director — initially earned Rice a three-game suspension, a $75,000 fine and a ticket to anger management classes. But after ESPN aired the video last week, Rutgers fired Rice on Wednesday.
ESPN said the video shows practice sessions shot between 2010 and 2012.
“You f**king fairy … you’re a f**king fa**ot,” Rice appears to say during one session.
In his resignation letter made public Friday, Pernetti wrote that his “first instincts” after seeing the video last year, months before ESPN aired it, “was to fire (Rice) immediately.”
“However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel,” Pernetti wrote. “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.”
But a member of the university’s Board of Governors, Mark Hershhorn, said through a spokeswoman Monday that he had recommended firing Rice after seeing the video in December.
“Immediately, he acted quickly, responsibly and diligently to make the appropriate recommendation to the university that Coach Rice be fired,” the spokeswoman, Jennifer Joseph, told CNN. “It is important to Hershhorn that in the very beginning of December when he made the recommendation of termination that the board look to what players deserve under Coach Rice and what future players deserve. By immediately responding, it shows that Rutgers has zero tolerance to any abuse and demeaning conduct, and that’s what Mr. Hershhorn wanted to make happen in early December.”
When he was fired, Rice had just ended his third year as the Scarlet Knights’ coach with a record of 44-51, and was under contract through the 2014-2015 season.
Pernetti’s resignation was a surprising end to his tenure at Rutgers, where he was heralded only last year for his role in moving the university into the powerhouse Big Ten Conference, which will begin in 2014.
Two other people also resigned from Rutgers last week amid the scandal: John Wolf, the school’s interim senior vice president and general counsel, and assistant men’s basketball coach Jimmy Martelli.
The former player development director — ex-NBA player Eric Murdock — filed a lawsuit against Rutgers on Friday, alleging that Rutgers fired him for blowing the whistle on Rice. Murdock alleges in the lawsuit he first notified the university about Rice’s behavior last summer and in November, when he gave Rutgers officials a copy of the video.
When asked about the lawsuit last week, Rutgers President Robert Barchi declined to comment, citing “an ongoing legal situation.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters Monday that Rice’s behavior was “completely reprehensible” and animalistic. But he said that while Barchi should have reviewed the video himself before ESPN aired it, he defended the Rutgers president from critics.
“He takes responsibility for anything that happens on his watch but my view on it is he should’ve looked at the videotape,” Christie said. “But I do not believe not looking at the video tape was a fireable offense. He relied on the people that worked for him.”
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