Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Source: Hill gets letter from AD
By Dana O'Neil ESPN.com
The torturous divorce between Rutgers and men's basketball coach Fred Hill is getting messier, with neither party willing to back down.
On Monday, Hill received a letter from athletic director Tim Pernetti, a source confirmed to ESPN.com, but the coach has not been fired, nor has he agreed to resign.
Instead, Hill has been at work the past two days, overseeing the team's weightlifting program and making calls in his office, the source said.
Pernetti released a statement on Monday, saying only that the situation with Hill was "an internal personnel matter. We have no further comment at this time.''
But according to a report in Tuesday's Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., Pernetti's letter to Hill alleged numerous breaches of contract beyond the much-publicized confrontation with University of Pittsburgh baseball coaches earlier this month.
Citing a source familiar with the situation, the newspaper reports that the letter also includes allegations of academic issues within the basketball program and reports that at least one basketball player failed a drug test.
The Star-Ledger reported that Pernetti was required to give Hill written notification of any alleged contract violations and that Hill would have 30 days to address those allegations.
But in the interim, the athletic director also could suspend Hill with pay, if it is in the best interest of the university.
Should Rutgers choose to fire Hill for cause, the coach would have 14 days to file an appeal to the university president.
Money is at the center of the issue. If he is fired, Hill could be owed upwards of $1.8 million. On Thursday, the university reportedly offered the coach a $600,000 buyout, which he declined.
Hill is not expected to be retained in any case. But if Hill files an appeal or chooses to sue, the university might not resolve the issue until at least May.
While the two sides haggle, hanging in the balance is a basketball program trying to dig its way out of the Big East basement.
The Scarlet Knights' New York-area Big East rivals already have changed coaches and started rebuilding. Kevin Willard is hard at work up the Garden State Parkway at Seton Hall, and Steve Lavin is deep in plans across the Hudson at St. John's.
The signing period for incoming recruits begins Wednesday, but Rutgers instead has to contend with two players who want out instead of in.
Star player Mike Rosario wants to transfer and top recruit Gil Biruta wants out of his letter of intent, but sources have told ESPN.com that no players will be released from their scholarships until a new coach is hired.
And no one knows when that might happen.
Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com.