Rice, Jordan named in lawsuit

Updated: March 27, 2014, 8:09 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Two former Rutgers basketball players filed a civil suit in a New Jersey court Thursday against the school, former administrators, ex-coach Mike Rice and current coach Eddie Jordan.

Jerome Seagears and Robert Lumpkins are seeking damages stemming from the scandal that cost Rice his job after an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report in April 2013, which included video of the coach's physical and verbal abuse of his players.

Seagears and Lumpkins alleged in their complaint: negligence, negligent hiring, training and supervision; gross negligence; breach of fiduciary duties; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; intentional infliction of emotional distress (retaliation); negligent infliction of emotional distress; interference with prospective economic advantage; and breach of implied.

Also named in the lawsuit are Dr. Robert Barchi, the school president, and former athletic director Tim Pernetti.

A Rutgers spokesperson said Thursday that the university doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Seagears transferred to Auburn after Rice was fired, but stayed only a few weeks before returning to Rutgers. He played this past season, but reportedly will transfer again.

The lawsuit claims that Seagears was removed from the starting lineup, was kicked out of practice and suspended from the team without reason or justification. Jamon Hicks, who is representing the two former Rutgers players and filed the suit Thursday in Middlesex County Superior Court, said Jordan retaliated against Seagears for seeking legal counsel.

"As to Coach Jordan, we believe the evidence will ultimately show that the coach retaliated against Mr. Seagears after a Feb. 4, 2014, newspaper article announced that Mr. Seagears had exercised his constitutional right to obtain legal counsel,'' Hicks told ESPN Thursday. "He retaliated against him by drastically reducing his minutes, removing him from practice on several occasions without cause, and removing him from the team without cause. All of these actions were done in violation of Mr. Seagears' rights."

A text seeking comment from Jordan wasn't returned Thursday.

As to what the plaintiffs are seeking, Hicks said: "We are not willing to discuss our specific demands until we have had the opportunity to discuss with Rutgers' legal representation, however this case is not just about monetary damages.''

Former player Derrick Randall also has filed a suit against Rice, the university and its administrators. Randall's case was filed in federal court. Former assistant coach Eric Murdock's lawsuit was filed in state court.

The issues raised in the civil complaint were well documented a year ago when OTL obtained video that exposed the verbal and physical abuse by Rice during practices.

The lawsuit cites a tragic suicide in September 2010 that prompted a new anti-bullying code dealing with harassment, verbal assault, defamation, bullying and intimidation, which it says was not followed in this case.

Seagears played in 31 of 33 games this past season, averaging 21.1 minutes and 7.1 points. Lumpkins played in 2010-11 after transferring from New Mexico State and played 11.3 minutes a game, averaging 3.5 points.

In Jordan's first season as coach at his alma mater, Rutgers finished 5-13 in its only season in the American Athletic Conference and 12-21 overall.

Rutgers moves to the Big Ten next season.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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