In another reminder that if you watch a video of your basketball coach throwing basketballs and hurling other forms of verbal and physical abuse at players during practice – even if it’s not a normal occurrence, per se – you should get rid of that basketball coach, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti, who in December decided to suspend rather than fire such a coach (then, of course, fired him earlier this week when the heat from the general public got to be too much), is no longer Rutgers’ athletic director. It’s not clear whether his ouster will officially come via firing or resignation, but he’s gone, and given the firestorm surrounding the Rice scandal, this moment was inevitable.
I said two days ago when Rice was fired that I was so exasperated and disgusted by this whole episode that while I wouldn’t actively campaign for Pernetti to go, if he did, I wouldn’t be sad. It might be hard for the non-Rutgers fan to appreciate how batshit insane that notion would have sounded in November, when Pernetti had just steered Rutgers into the Big Ten and was borderline royalty in the mind of everyone who roots for this seemingly-cursed athletic program to succeed.
But that was before the video came out, and Rutgers was shamed once again in front of the entire nation. I won’t rehash my ranting about this from earlier in the week, but suffice to say: it sucks, and it’s why I was okay with multiple heads rolling here. And it’s why the next head to roll might be that of Rutgers president Robert Barchi. Between the Big Ten move and medical school merger, Barchi, who just took office last September, had about as good a start to his presidency as could be imagined. Rutgers was building a lot of positive momentum. Now that momentum’s moving in the opposite direction even faster.
So that’s one reason this all sucks. The other: it’s hard for me, as a Rutgers fan and (third-generation) alum, someone with a parent who still works at the school, to really even take any satisfaction in Pernetti going. I think it probably had to happen, and Pernetti had to pay for the mistake he made handling Rice, but… man, did that guy love Rutgers (he’s an alum himself, twice over). And not only that, but before this all broke, I’d have told you he was one hell of an AD. Even when it’s necessary and deserved, hard to be happy about getting rid of a guy like that – especially when his ouster is clearly part of an ass-covering campaign (and even though him firing Rice was clearly his own ass-covering campaign).
What we’re left with is a situation that sounds good on the face of it: people in positions of power screwed up, and when their screwups became public knowledge thanks to reporters’ efforts, they paid for those screwups. And that is good. But the fact that it’s come to this at all? That is not. Really, really not. As not-good as any Rutgers athletics development in all the years I’ve followed the mostly-not-good happenings of Rutgers athletics. Another fresh start awaits, I guess. Will this fresh start rot as quickly as the last one? I hope I’ve taught you enough about Rutgers fandom at this point for you to know I don’t have my hopes up.