NJ senator calls for Pernetti’s return amidst new Rutgers scandal

Julie Hermann, left, told ESPN President Robert Barchi, right, assured her she will not be fired. Credit: Getty Images
Julie Hermann, left, told ESPN President Robert Barchi, right, assured her she will not be fired.
Credit: Getty Images

New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak saw this coming.

In the latest scandal to hit Rutgers, reports surfaced alleging new athletic director Julie Hermann directed abuse toward players as head volleyball coach at Tennessee in the 1990s which caused her to resign. According to reports, Rutgers never vetted Hermann about this incident when they decided to hire her to replace Tim Pernetti as athletic director.

Pernetti was forced to resign April 6 after media scrutiny in the wake of firing head basketball coach Mike Rice. Pernetti chose to suspend Rice in December after a video of him berating players came to light as opposed to firing him. When ESPN aired the tape in April, Rice was fired.

“First of all [Pernetti] followed university procedures — human resource and legal procedures that were in place that were inadequate to deal with this situation. He was made the scapegoat rather than the institution taking responsibility,” Lesniak, who has represented New Jersey’s 20th district since 1984, told Metro yesterday. Lesniak graduated from Rutgers with a degree in economics and is a men’s basketball season ticket holder. “When you make someone a scapegoat like [Rutgers] President Rob Barchi did, bad things happen and bad things did happen with the hiring of an athletic director who has a very difficult past of abuse of players. The right thing to do is to correct this thing, admit you made a mistake, that it is wrong to make [someone] a scapegoat for an institutional problem and bring back Tim Pernetti and move on from there.”

Pernetti would not speak on the record, but a high-ranking source said the university was on board with Pernetti’s decision last December.

“Everyone was on board with the suspension, including the Committee for Athletics, which included several members of the Board of Governors, and the president of the university to the point that Pernetti was effusively praised in December board meetings for his handling of the situation by all parties,” the source said. “When the tape came out in April, although Pernetti shared in December that it would, they isolated Tim, and reacted to the media and the public outcry. Trenton had their hands in this too.”

In 2012, Rice was kicked out in the first half a Feb. 4 game with Louisville, livid after what he saw as a missed call by the officiating crew. In that game, Rice had to be restrained and then made a choking gesture towards the referees on his way off the court.

After that incident, the source said Pernetti met with Rice and essentially read him the riot act.

“There’s no behavior like this from that time until now,” the source said. “More than a year.”

Even away from the sidelines or the practice court, Rice was acting like a changed man — not the one seen in that video. One of Rice’s former players, a multi-year starter for the Scarlet Knights, told Metro he saw a change in Rice dating back to that game against Louisville.

“What I saw, me personally and only me personally, is someone who I think got it. He seemed changed after sort of getting called out,” the player said. “I never saw coach Rice as someone looking to hurt us by all that carrying on. I think he got lost in the wins and losses and maybe that got the better of him. But I don’t think he delighted in hurting us.

“And this year he seemed different. You could tell maybe he was processing things differently.”

The player, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he wasn’t aware of any major outbursts within the past year like those seen on the video obtained by ESPN.

Rutgers is now embroiled in the center of another scandal that could have been avoided had Pernetti not been terminated.

“[Tim] certainly handled the situation under the procedures established by the Rutgers Department of Human Resources and their legal department,” Lesniak said. “When those procedures are followed and result in the correction in the behavior, to fire a person or demand that he resign or be fired, as President Barchi did, is a terrible injustice.”

Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: Lesbians, men most likely…

Lesbians, men most likely to achieve orgasm Location: U.S. Study subjects: 2,850 people Results: Whether you find it shocking or not, a new study reports that…

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.