Less than five months after taking the stage with Rutgers President Robert Barchi (center photo) and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany (right) to announce that Rutgers had been selected by the Big Ten, Tim Pernetti (left) is out as Rutgers Athletic Director, sources have told the Associated Press. Despite Rutgers’ climb from an almost insignificant athletic program to a member of the most powerful conference in the country in less than a decade, some are calling for Barchi to also leave in the aftermath of a coaching scandal.
The overwhelming reaction to hidden video of Rutgers’ basketball coach Mike Rice firing basketballs and slurs at his players during practice turned toward Pernetti when it was reported that Pernetti had seen the video months earlier and retained Rice as coach. Rice was fined, put into anger counseling, and suspended for three games, but the near consensus was that Pernetti should have fired him at the time.
The fall was an extreme one for the biggest winner in the conference realignment. Pernetti made the case that the Big Ten would best be served by adding Rutgers ahead of stronger football programs in order to bring Big Ten TV to the New York market. The school’s academic standing made them a candidate, but they were initially passed over for a westward expansion to add Nebraska.
However in November, when this photo was taken, the Big Ten announced the addition of Rutgers from the Big East and Maryland from the ACC to expand to the east coast. This press conference was held on November 20, about the time that Pernetti was handed the now infamous video of Rice’s practices. An employee gave the video to Pernetti, who in turn suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes.
The fact that Robert Barchi signed off on these punishments but also did not order the firing of Rice led to speculation Thursday that one or both would be dismissed. Rutgers players and many in the student body rallied around Rice and Pernetti, who finished his football career at Rutgers two decades ago.
The developments create an issue for Delany, who already had to deal with the scandal at Big Ten member Penn State in the wake of the Joe Paterno firing.