Rutgers assistant on video resigns

Updated: April 5, 2013, 11:55 AM ET
By Don Van Natta Jr. | ESPN.com

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Jimmy Martelli, a Rutgers assistant men's basketball coach under recently departed head coach Mike Rice, has resigned, the university told "Outside the Lines" on Thursday afternoon. No reason was given.

Martelli was known to coaches and players as "Baby Rice," "Outside the Lines" has learned.

In some of the hundreds of DVDs of Rutgers practices from 2010-12 being reviewed by "Outside the Lines," there are at least a handful of instances in which Martelli grabs, throws balls, shoves and screams at players, including calling one a "f---ing f----t."

Martelli's behavior is similar to that of Rice, who was fired Wednesday, a day after "Outside the Lines" aired video of practice incidents that had led Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti initially to suspend and fine Rice in December.

Martelli did not respond to ESPN's requests for comment, but he released a statement to the Associated Press, which reads: "I am sickened that as an assistant coach I contributed in any way to an unacceptable culture. Wednesday I resigned from Rutgers and I hope that coaches on all levels will learn something important from these events. For my actions, I am deeply sorry and I apologize to the players from the bottom of my heart."

At least one of the Martelli incidents was on the DVD that Pernetti saw in November ahead of disciplining Rice. Pernetti has said he launched investigations twice into Rice's behavior -- once after being told verbally of his behavior and once after seeing a 30-minute DVD in late November. In that investigation, Pernetti has said he hired an "independent investigator."

According to NJ.com, Pernetti said Tuesday during a meeting with local reporters that Martelli's involvement had been addressed.

"Jimmy was spoken to about the matter," NJ.com quoted Pernetti as saying. "We dealt with that. Certainly the tape focused on Mike, but it brought some other things to light that we dealt with at the same time that we dealt with Mike."

Martelli was an assistant of Rice's at Robert Morris, and both were hired by Rutgers in May 2010. It's unknown whether Martelli, who resigned Wednesday, was disciplined for the incidents. Pernetti has not been reached for comment since Tuesday.

The investigator Pernetti hired -- John Lacey of Connell Foley LLC -- is listed as an executive committee member of Rutgers School of Law. Lacey told "Outside the Lines" this week that he could not speak without checking with Rutgers first. He has not returned calls since.

Eric Murdock, the former director of player development at Rutgers who turned over the 30-minute video to Pernetti and the university on Nov. 26, said in an interview last weekend of Rice: "It's amazing to me how he got this far in this profession, first of all, because what I understand is at Robert Morris there were five coaches-versus-player brawls in practice."

Tyree Graham, who was on the Rutgers team for two years, told "Outside the Lines" on Thursday that he, too, heard Martelli called "Baby Rice."

"He used to belittle players by the way he talked," Graham said, adding that Martelli called players "b-----s" and "p-----s."

Graham also said Martelli and Rice were "best friends. But Rice would yell at Martelli in practice as well."

Martelli is the son of St. Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli.

Reporter John Barr, producers Justine Gubar, Greg Amante and Michael Sciallo, and production assistant Joshua Vorensky of "Outside the Lines" contributed to this report.

Don Van Natta Jr. | email

Senior writer, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com

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