In Defense of Rutgers’ Athletic Director Tim Pernetti

Look, the Confidential is no friend of Rutgers.  Do not believe us?  Check out this post.   Yeah, pretty harsh.  That being said, the Confidential MUST opine that society is on a slippery slope where the only thing that satisfies anyone is when a person committing an offense loses his or her job.  So, regardless of whether Tim Pernetti advocated for the termination or suspension of Mike Rice, the news that Tim Pernetti was fired or resigned under pressure of same is simply absurd.

Let’s not forget that Tim Pernetti was not the one being abusive to players in practice.  He was not the one that crossed the line.  Sure, he hired that guy.  But Tim Pernetti is not someone with an anger control problem, nor does he pose any danger to student-athletes.  What Tim Pernetti was fired for was doing a poor job at managing an already ugly situation.

Now, Rutgers sent Rice to anger management classes.  Why not send Tim Pernetti to basic management classes?  Rutgers is a proud university; certainly somebody at that institution teaches a management class that Tim Pernetti could take for a grade.  Maybe even an ethics class?  The Confidential finds it hard to believe that Tim Pernetti–the athletic director–was beyond salvaging.  Instead of faculty recommending that he audit a class taught at Rutgers, the faculty did the easy thing–advocated for his termination.  Mission accomplished.

The sad part is that Tim Pernetti oversaw the transition of Rutgers from a middling athletic program in the Big East, to being Big 10 bound.  This is the equivalent of winning the lottery.  Only Tim Pernetti will not be around to spend it.  Some other guy or gal will fill his role and get to go on a spending spree.  That is really too bad.

What is worse is that this just keeps happening again and again.  Our overly-litigious, overly-critical, overly media-frenzy driven society just cannot handle anyone making a mistake.  Instead, mistakes are now unforgivable.  Which is fine for the rapists, murderers, and abusers.  But when it comes down to poor judgment in response to a situation, the Confidential thinks that it is time for everyone to take a step back before advocating for termination and only termination.

Rutgers was not Penn State.  The “kids” abused by Rice were adults.  They had the ability to speak out.  They had the ability to group together to demand his ouster.  Some had the ability to say enough is enough.   So nobody should even go down that road.

If there is a more compelling analogy, it is Bobby Knight.  Mike Rice was no Knight when it comes to wins, obviously.  Heck, Mike Rice (111-61) has only a few dozen more wins than Pat Knight (73-72).  But nobody fired Bobby Knight for a long, long time.  The fact that Tim Pernetti did not fire Mike Rice is not a mortal sin or a crime.  It is a mistake.  We need to stop firing people over mistakes.

The interesting thing about all of this is that Penn State, Indiana, and Rutgers are all about to be part of the same conference.  For a conference that purports to be so much more cultured than the SEC, it sure does have its disproportionate number of problems with coaches and abusive behavior.  But, if anything, Rutgers overreacted with respect to Tim Pernetti.

20 responses to “In Defense of Rutgers’ Athletic Director Tim Pernetti

  1. Greatly appreciate, and agree with this perspective, although after having read in detail the rather thorough procedure that Pernetti followed in determining Rice’s punishment–involving counsel from many different sources–, I might even argue that Pernetti’s management of a *very* complex situation was not as “wrong” as all the armchair critics who’ve seen only the most damning 30 seconds of tape would like, for the sake of their own self-righteousness, to believe. Thank you for having the courage to articulate the viewpoint that, frankly, I think captures the scary implications–for all of us–of this kind of “process.”

  2. Full disclosure: I hate Rutgers and I hate that they are going to the B1G. But all sour grapes aside, this is a classic example of the cover-up being worse than the crime. First of all, there is no excuse for what Mike Rice did; every state-funded school (which Rutgers is) has some policy about not hitting/abusing students.

    If a professor did this to a student during a class, or even during their office hours, you can damn well be sure that the professor would have disciplinary actions against them. For some reason we allow coaches to touch a player’s butt and there is no recourse; but there should be zero tolerance for physically and verbally abusing them.

    In the case of Rutgers, there are three elements that makes this whole situation even worse:

    1) Murdock first came to Pernetti with his concerns last summer. He was an eyewitness to the erratic and unacceptable behavior of Mike Rice. Yet, according to Murdock, every time that Pernetti came to practice, Rice was on his best behavior. That right there tells you that Rice knows the difference between right-and-wrong and an admission of his guilt. When provided with the video tape supporting Murdock’s claims, then Pernetti should have fired Rice on the spot. No excuses. You catch your employee knowingly breaking rules or laws, and they clearly know what they are doing is wrong, then you have to do what is right.

    2) Instead of firing Rice, the University put him on double-secret probation; suspending him without giving any indication as to why. They left the public in the dark on this for two reasons: a) they didn’t want to have to pay him $1M+ that they thought he would be due, and b) they didn’t want the Big Ten Conference to find out and have it adversely impact Rutgers’ admission to the B1G.

    If it weren’t for the boatload of cash that Rutgers had coming their way with the B1G deal, (and it was Big Deal), then Rice probably would have been dealt with differently.

    3) Lastly, and I give all credit to NPR for pointing this out, but Rutgers has a bad recent history regarding intolerance toward homosexuals. To Rutgers’ credit, ever since the student killed himself for being outted by his roommate, the University has gone to great lengths to try and show that they inclusive and diverse toward gay people. So, to have an employee going on video calling players “fairies” and “fa**ots” is unacceptable. Again, Rice should have been dealt with swiftly but for the Athletic Department’s fear that it would have killed their chances at going to the B1G.

    In my opinion, the NCAA should sanction Rutgers in a similar way they sanctioned PSU. Think about it: Rutgers covers up the intolerable actions of a coach, despite eyewitness accounts and video evidence, because they do not want the negative publicity and the impact it could have their pending windfall. Doesn’t that sound eerily similar to other programs that have “put athletics above the integrity of students”?

    • This issue would not have kept Rutgers out of the Big 10. If anything, I think the Big 10 would have supported the decision to terminate Rice. What better way to show that you are above the Penn State issues? Pernetti was made a scapegoat and that should never be tolerated.

      And if you then factor in that Pernetti wanted to fire Rice, it is clear that someone else other than Pernetti is the proper scapegoat anyway.

      The only good news is that people who are unfairly let go have a better chance at getting a second chance.

      • Here’s an excerpt from an article regarding Murdock’s wrongful termination suit with Rutgers. It seems pretty clear that Rutgers wanted to get the B1G deal inked before dealing with Rice/Murdock.

        “We’ve had dates that more than once Rutgers canceled,” Kozyra said. “Ironically, we were supposed to go in earlier the same week that we went in and Rutgers canceled that meeting so they could make the (joining the Big Ten announcement). We were postponed until a few days later.”

        “During the meeting on Nov. 26, 2012, the university and its representatives were provided, through Mr. Murdock and his representatives, with undisputed video evidence of defendant Rice’s unlawful conduct and abuse of many student-athletes over the course of his tenure as the head men’s basketball coach. Shockingly, all of the evidence provided to the university and its representatives on Nov. 26, 2012 had been in their possession throughout defendant Rice’s tenure with the university,” the suit says.

        Emphasis added.

    • The problem with guys like Vinny Saltine is they don’t know the facts but have no problem inventing them to try and justify their arguments. In his point #1, I don’t know how that makes the situation worse for Rutgers. Murdock expressed concerns so Pernetti went to check them out. It is bad for Rice but not for Rutgers.

      His point #2 is a bold-faced lie, and many people have repeat it in their holier than thou frenzy to claim there was cover up. This is what Saltine wrote

      “Instead of firing Rice, the University put him on double-secret probation; suspending him without giving any indication as to why”

      Pernetti publicly announced in December that Rice was being suspended for inappropriate behavior towards his players, which included throwing basketball at his players’ heads and for using abusive, profane language, and ordered he attend anger management counseling and any further incident would get him fired. You would have to be either an uniformed moron or an idiot with an axe to grind to say what Saltine said. Here is the link

      http://www.nj.com/rutgersbasketball/index.ssf/2012/12/mike_rice_suspended_by_rutgers.html

      His point 3 is absurd and misleading. It isn’t that Rutgers had a “bad recent history regarding intolerance towards homosexuals”. Are you freaking kidding me? No they don’t. It was one or two students filming a young kid without his consent. The kid tragically committed suicide. The university took swift action.

      Now Vinny Saltine, since you are obviously wrong, especially about the non-existent “coverup”, how about being a man and apologizing for spreading lies?

      • Apologize? I should thank you for further proving my point. The article you linked to clearly undermines the severity of the offense. It wasn’t just using profane language and throwing basketballs, he was physically grabbing and pushing players as well using homophobic slurs towards the players. Hence the cover up.

        Rice clearly deserved to be fired, and he eventually was. But, it was not as though there was some new evidence that was brought forward that changed the AD’s point of view on the topic…instead the video (which they had watched) was leaked to ESPN and the Administration had no choice but to do what they should have done in the first place.

        Either the AD grossly underestimated the court of public opinion if the video ever emerged (which I highly doubt), or they fully understood how bad the PR would be and were hoping that a fine & suspension would make the whole thing go away.

        • Saltine, Just as I thought. You are one of those people who can’t acknowledge that what he posted was factually inaccurate. This is exactly what you wrote

          “Instead of firing Rice, the University put him on double-secret probation; suspending him without giving any indication as to why”

          Pernetti spelled out exactly what Rice was being suspended for at the time he was suspended. The tapes show exactly that. Your saying Rice was on double secret probation and that they suspended him without giving any indication is a BOLD-FACED lie. If you can’t acknowledge that you were obviously wrong, then you a cowardly jerk not worth responding to you again. The ball in in your court mister. Just in case you were too lazy to click on the link I provided, here is the relevant quotes from December of 2012.

          {{Mike Rice, Rutgers’ animated and often fiery men’s basketball coach, was suspended without pay today for the Scarlet Knights’ next three games and fined $50,000 for inappropriate behavior and language that the school deemed a violation of athletic department policy.

          The decision, which was announced early this afternoon via press release from athletic director Tim Pernetti, followed an internal investigation that revealed abusive, profane language used by Rice toward his players and an incident during his first or second season in which Rice threw basketballs at some players’ heads during practice, according to multiple people with knowledge of the findings and the video evidence presented to Rice.}}

        • I read the entire article that you provided before I posted my previous response, and as I stated before, you are supporting my point. Rutgers decided to hide the true reason why they were suspending Rice; instead of saying “he was physically assaulting the players” which inevitably would have lead to public outrage. So, instead Rutgers made it seem as though he just had a temper, threw some basketballs, and then after some anger management classes he’ll be back to normal. No problem.

          The point that you are conveniently overlooking is that the Administration saw the video, and chose not to fire him. After the video went viral, they realized that they had to fire him.

          The only difference was that the evidence became public.

          Let’s face it, had Pernetti fired RIce in November/December (as he should have) then Pernetti would still be the AD. The cover-up is worse than the crime.

          Also, I realize that this is an area of personal importance to you, and your opinion on the subject is valued. But I would strongly recommend that you refrain from resorting to ad hominem comments if you choose to continue participating at this site.

  3. Vinnie Saltine, I love you bro because haters like you, we need them. All this publicly RU you is getting is great. Hey bad press is better than no press right. I don’t care we are B1G bound and go right now after all this hating, coaches are lining up to take that basketball job. 8 coaches and five of them who already have jobs as head coaches in BCS conferences have had third party convo’s about the job including former UCLA coach Ben Howland. We will be fine. Haters gonna hate. Your a hater and you admitted in in your opening statement.

    • “Bad press is better than no press”.

      You’re right, if not for a controversial video tape showing your former coach abusing players, then no one would be talking about Rutgers during the NCAA tournament, let alone Championship Weekend.

  4. And the author is a douche bag for that wack ass article about RU scheduling. Bro really are your serious. Like Louisville had a Hard time with UK and UNC and not to mention that soft ass schedule next year. Pitt and SU schedz are soft as baby shit next year playing the whole ACC conference……the whole ACC are fairies lol…..Go RU #B1G

      • Rutgers had the following OOC opponents scheduled for this year and the next few years; Penn State, Miami, UCLA, Arkansas, and Maryland. With the move to the Big Ten, obviously Penn State and Maryland are no longer OOC.

        • The article at issue addressed the past, not the future. If you really think there is no correlation between the uber-soft scheduling of the 2000s and Rutgers’ rise from utter irrelevance, I’d like to hear the argument.

          The two softest scheduling teams were Cincy and Rutgers. And it was not even close. Again, make the argument to the contrary.

          It is good to see that Rutgers is taking on bigger challenges in the future. Arkansas in 2012 was legit too. And a very impressive win to all outsiders.

  5. There’s no sense in arguing with Rutgers fans, they just don’t know any better. Luckily there aren’t to many of them.

    • Rutgers fans: they know that they played the first college football game in 1869 but have no recollection of playing another game until 2004.

        • We have a full-on Vinny battle…. lol.

          12-30-1 all time. The Gregg Robinson era was responsible for a 4-0 stretch. Aside from that it is 8-30-1. Even with the Gregg Robinson era, the post-McNabb era is 8-6 for Rutgers. So even in a historically down time for Syracuse, Rutgers barely squeaks by.

          It is what it is.

        • Once again…proving my point. Completely disregard history save for the past few years when Rutgers football has been respectable.

  6. I think we oughta thank Rutgers! If they wouldn’t have lost to a MAC team in football this past season then the MAC wouldn’t of had a team in the Orange Bowl. Instead another Big 12 school would’ve been in and it would’ve been Fla St and Louisville. Way to lose Rutgers to help everyone out, much appreciated.

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