Rutgers to commission independent investigation into abusive coach scandal

Rutgers to commission independent investigation into abusive coach scandal

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Rutgers University announced Monday it will commission an independent investigation of the men’s basketball program and the university’s handling of a complaint that the coach mistreated players.

An airing of video showing coach Mike Rice kicking and shoving players and making gay slurs during practices led last week to the coach’s firing and the resignations of the athletics director, the university’s top in-house lawyer and an assistant coach.

An at-a-glance look at the latest developments:

New Investigation

President Robert Barchi announced he will meet Thursday with the board of governors to discuss naming an independent adviser to investigate the basketball scandal, including the university’s decision to discipline Rice, rather than fire him, when first shown video evidence in November.

The video was provided by a former basketball program employee who is accusing Rutgers in a federal lawsuit of retaliating against him for complaining about Rice’s conduct.

All sports under microscope

Rutgers announced it will review practice videos from all sports to see if any other coach engaged in abusive behavior.

Governor calls coach an “animal”

Gov. Chris Christie, back from vacation, discusses the scandal publicly for the first time — using his strongest language yet to describe the coach’s conduct. He said he was speaking as governor and as the father of a student who plays Division I baseball at Princeton.

“What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son after this video?” he said. “You’re talking about kids being miserably treated by the guy who determined whether they keep their scholarship or not.”

Christie backs Rutgers president

Christie said Barchi made a mistake not asking to view the video himself in November but leaders need to delegate and the mistake was not a firing offense.

He said anyone who saw the video in November should have concluded Rice needed to be fired.

He also revealed he called athletics director Tim Pernetti on April 2, when ESPN first aired the video, and told him he needed to get rid of Rice. Rice was fired the next day.

Interim Athletics Director

Former Rutgers dean Carl Kirschner has been named interim athletics director. Kirschner, now a special counsel for academic affairs, also ran the program for four months in 2009 after then-athletics director Robert Mulcahy was fired. The school also named the chairs of a search committee to choose a permanent replacement.

Million Dollar payouts

Newly released documents show Pernetti is getting $1.2 million in salary, a $12,000-a-year car allowance through next year and health insurance and pension payments through October 2015. He also gets to keep his university-issued laptop computer and iPad.

Rice is getting $1 million, or 75 percent of the salary remaining on his contract, plus a $100,000 bonus for completing the last season.

Board Member saw video

The board of governors reports its athletics committee chairman, Mark P. Hershhorn, watched the video in early December, the month the university announced Rice would be suspended without pay for three games and fined $50,000 for inappropriate conduct. The board statement does not say what conclusion Hershhorn reached from watching the tape.

But Hershhorn, responding to suggestions he step down, issued a statement saying he had told the athletics director that if the video could be authenticated, Rice should be fired immediately. He said “contrary to my recommendation,” the university chose to discipline Rice instead of letting him go.

The university administration declined to comment on his account of events.

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