Only days after ESPN’s Outside The Lines publicly revealed video of Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing players on his team, the athletic department has come under intense scrutiny: Rice was fired, an assistant stepped down, and athletic director Tim Pernetti’s job was seemingly at stake for only suspending Rice for three games after reviewing the tape earlier this year.
At first, word spread that Pernetti’s job was safe. But in the last several hours, reports surfaced that he had resigned. And as of this morning, he’s out. Here’s his letter of resignation, posted to the Rugters Athletics Department website:
Dr. Robert L. Barchi, President
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
83 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281
Dear Dr. Barchi:
I write in confirmation of our conversation earlier today during which we agreed that it was in the best interests of Rutgers University that I step down from my position as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. I do so reluctantly because I always have and always will love Rutgers. I want to thank the people who have supported me throughout my years as a student-athlete and Athletic Director and help them understand my reasoning in this situation.
My continued tenure as Athletic Director is no longer sustainable for the University which I attended and where a piece of me will always remain. In connection with the incidents involving former basketball Coach Mike Rice, as was the case with all other matters which I handled on behalf of the University, I always tried my best to do what is right. I have 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.
I trust that my tenure at Rutgers will not be judged by this one incident. I am proud of my efforts to lead Rutgers into the Big Ten, and of all of the accomplishments of our student-athletes in the classroom and on the field of play. I want to thank our great fans, the hardest working staff in collegiate athletics, and every one of our fine student-athletes. It has been my great pleasure to serve my alma mater.
Class of 1993
So, Pernetti is redirecting the blame back on the bureaucratic mess of laywers and human resources and outside counsel. And so the blame game continues.