April 5, 2013
Today Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti offered me his resignation, and I have accepted it. Tim and I mutually agreed that this is in the best interest of Rutgers. I appreciate the positive things that Tim has done for the university, but also recognize the gravity of recent developments in regard to the men’s basketball program.
Let me begin by saying that this was a failure of process. I regret that I did not ask to see the video when Tim first told me of its existence, because I am certain this situation would have had a different outcome had I done so. I personally apologize to the entire Rutgers community – our faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and the many others who support the great work of this university – for the negative impact that this situation has had on Rutgers.
I apologize to any student athletes on the team who may have been personally harmed; the kind of chronic and pervasively abusive behavior demonstrated on that video is unacceptable and does not represent the high standards of leadership and accountability we strive for within the Rutgers athletic program. I also apologize to the LGBTQ community and all of us who share their values, for the homophobic slurs shown on that video. I personally know how hurtful that language can be.
As I indicated in my statement on Wednesday, based on the advice of the university’s General Counsel and of outside legal advisers, Tim gave me a summary description of the situation regarding Coach Mike Rice last fall. Relying on that summary, I agreed with and supported his recommendation to suspend rather than fire Coach Rice.
It was not until Tuesday evening of this week, when I watched the video, that I had the opportunity to witness what Tim had seen last fall. I was deeply disturbed by the behavior the video revealed, which was much more abusive and pervasive than I had understood it to be. As Tim acknowledged Wednesday, his decision to rehabilitate rather than to fire Coach Rice was wrong. While I applaud Tim for his frank self-assessment, it is clear to me and to everyone who has seen the video just how egregious the offenses were and how out of keeping with the Rutgers community’s values they were.
At the time, the legal team advising Tim and me agreed that the decision we made was within the bounds of reasonableness. I should add here that as of yesterday, Interim Senior Vice President and General Counsel John Wolf also resigned from his leadership position.
Tim Pernetti is a sincere and honest man. He is a skilled athletic director with many strengths. He has made a number of decisions that have positioned Rutgers Athletics well and played a leading role in the negotiations that have brought Rutgers into the Big Ten. I believe he has always had the good of Rutgers and its student athletes in mind in every decision he has made, including his decision today. As I said, this mutual decision is in the best interest of Rutgers, and we will learn from this situation going forward. I respect and accept Tim’s decision to step down and I sincerely wish him well.
I will be moving to appoint an interim athletic director in the coming days.
Now, Tim has asked me to read the letter that he has sent to me.