Ex-Rutgers AD Gets $1.1M Payout After Scandal
By Jason Kessler and Jason Hanna, CNN
(CNN) — Rutgers University will pay former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti more than $1.1 million after his resignation in the wake of a scandal involving the videotaped abuse of basketball players by the team’s former coach.
CNN obtained the terms of Pernetti’s separation package through a New Jersey Open Public Records Act request after Rutgers and Pernetti had agreed to keep the terms confidential.
The state university will pay Pernetti his annual $453,000 salary through June 30, 2014. In addition, he will get a lump sum equal to 18 months of salary — $679,500 — payable by next month, according to the agreement.
In addition, Rutgers will provide health and pension benefits to Pernetti through October 2015 and will continue paying an automobile stipend through June 2014, the agreement states. Also, he remains eligible for up to $50,000 in bonuses based on the school’s athletic, academic and financial successes through June 2014, according to the deal.
Rutgers and Pernetti agreed to a “mutual release of all claims” and to avoid making disparaging remarks about each other.
Pernetti resigned Friday, two days after men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired over a video that showed him shoving and berating players during practice. Sports network ESPN, which aired the video last week, said it showed practice sessions shot between 2010 and 2012.
“You f**king fairy … you’re a f**king fa**ot,” Rice appears to say during one session.
The team’s onetime player development director provided the video to Rutgers officials, who gave Rice a three-game suspension, a $75,000 fine and a ticket to anger management classes. But after ESPN aired the video, the university fired him.
In his resignation letter made public Friday, Pernetti wrote that his “first instincts” after seeing the video last year, months before ESPN aired it, “was to fire (Rice) immediately.”
“However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel,” Pernetti wrote. “Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal.
“I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved.”
But a member of the university’s Board of Governors, Mark Hershhorn, said Monday that he did recommend Rice’s “immediate termination” after seeing the video. Hershhorn was “extremely disappointed” about the university’s decision to suspend Rice rather than fire him and expressed that disappointment in a “very passionate” manner, spokeswoman Jennifer Joseph told CNN.
Hershhorn serves as chairman of the board’s committee on intercollegiate athletics. In a statement to reporters, he said that with Rice gone, “We can move forward with a successful basketball program, and of greater importance, we will continue to act responsibly and quickly against this type of behavior, so that the world will know that we at Rutgers have a zero tolerance as it relates to any such abusive and demeaning conduct.”
Rice had just ended his third year as the Scarlet Knights’ coach when he was fired, ending the season with a 44-51 record. He was under contract through the 2014-2015 season.
Pernetti’s resignation was a surprising end to his tenure at Rutgers, where he was heralded only last year for his role in moving the university into the powerhouse Big Ten Conference, which will begin in 2014.
Two other people also resigned from Rutgers last week amid the scandal: John Wolf, the school’s interim senior vice president and general counsel, and assistant men’s basketball coach Jimmy Martelli.
The former player development director — ex-NBA player Eric Murdock — filed a lawsuit against Rutgers on Friday, alleging that Rutgers fired him for blowing the whistle on Rice. Murdock alleges in the lawsuit he first notified the university about Rice’s behavior last summer and in November, when he gave Rutgers officials a copy of the video.
When asked about the lawsuit last week, Rutgers President Robert Barchi declined to comment, citing “an ongoing legal situation.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters Monday that Rice’s behavior was “completely reprehensible” and animalistic. But he said that while Barchi should have reviewed the video himself before ESPN aired it, he defended the Rutgers president from critics.
“He takes responsibility for anything that happens on his watch, but my view on it is he should’ve looked at the videotape,” Christie said. “But I do not believe not looking at the videotape was a fireable offense. He relied on the people that worked for him.”
— CNN’s Lorenzo Ferrigno, Matt Smith and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.