Tim Pernetti praised in December

Updated: April 11, 2013, 12:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was praised by top campus officials in December when he suspended former coach Mike Rice, who physically and verbally abused his players.

Pernetti, according to confidential minutes obtained and initially reported by the Star-Ledger of Newark (N.J.) newspaper from a closed-door meeting of campus officials, said he was willing to give Rice a second chance instead of firing him because he thought the coach could change.

Pernetti's decision ultimately cost him his job; he resigned last Friday in the wake of the scandal that came into the national spotlight when video from ESPN's "Outside the Lines" showed Rice mistreating his players.

Rice was originally fined $50,000 and suspended for three games in December. He was fired last Wednesday.

Rutgers president Robert L. Barchi, who also has come under fire, commended Pernetti and his department for handling the matter "appropriately," according to the minutes.

According to the Star-Ledger, more than 20 Rutgers officials, trustees and board members attended the Dec. 14 meeting, at which the athletics committee of the university's board of governors discussed allegations that Rice had shoved players and used homophobic slurs during practice. No one there questioned whether Rice should be fired or asked to view video of the coach's abuse, the paper reported.

The records, according to the Star-Ledger, also show no one bothered to mention the discussion of Rice's punishment at a public meeting of the full Rutgers board of governors that same day.

Board member Mark Hershhorn, who chaired the meeting, also did not argue that Rice should be fired, according to the meeting minutes. He only asked Pernetti to explain circumstances of the suspension.

The newspaper also said that much of the Dec. 14 meeting actually focused on the school's entrance into the Big Ten Conference and concerns over revenues being generated through Rutgers' outside marketing firm, Nelligan Sports Marketing.

Ironically, one of Pernetti's final acts as AD was to pay more than $7 million to end the university's relationship with the marketing firm, according to the Star-Ledger.

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