PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Tim Pernetti is out as Rutgers athletic director, two days after the basketball coach he hired, Mike Rice, was dismissed when a video went public showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and using anti-gay slurs.
The decision was confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday by a person familiar with the action and who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced. The school is to hold a campus news conference at 1 p.m. EDT.
Pernetti was given the video in late November by a former employee, Eric Murdock. With the approval of university President Robert Barchi, he suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes.
But the video was broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, and immediately drew widespread criticism around the country. It showed numerous clips of Rice at practice during his time at Rutgers, firing basketballs at players, grabbing them by their jerseys and yelling obscenities in addition to the slurs.
There has been some discrepancy regarding when exactly Barchi saw the video. Pernetti said the president saw it in November; Barchi said he didn't see it until this week.
The 42-year-old Pernetti is a Rutgers graduate who played tight end for the Scarlet Knights from 1989-93.
Meantime, there had been an outcry from Rutgers faculty and state legislators to fire both Pernetti and the school president.
By Friday morning, however, nearly 3,000 people had joined a Facebook site calling for the university to keep him, several accusing the media and politicians of a witch hunt. Former Rutgers football players including Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed during a game in 2010, were among those campaigning for Pernetti.
On Thursday, assistant coach Jimmy Martelli resigned.
Pernetti's finest hour may have been when he helped in the school's move to the Big Ten Conference, which means millions in additional revenue by way of television contracts and more national exposure, especially in football. The move, which becomes official in 2014, should provide a big boost to the program in recruiting and season ticket sales. The Scarlet Knights will continue to play next season in the Big East.
Pernetti's first major move as athletic director came in May 2010, when he hired the volatile Rice away from Robert Morris, which he took to two NCAA tournament appearances.
"He convinced me he understood his reputation, but he also understood where the line was," Pernetti said, referring to Rice. "I made clear to him if he crossed the line he would be held accountable."
The move might have been too soon for a coach like Rice, and clearly Pernetti took a serious risk. After all, most Big East coaches do not land there immediately after stops in the Northeast Conference, but Rutgers and Pernetti looked at Rice and saw the man who could turn the perennially underachieving program around.
It never happened. Rice went 44-51 in three years and posted a 16-38 mark in the Big East after going 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season, including 5-13 in the league, and questions about Rice's status - based on wins and losses alone - began to surface.
But Pernetti again made a questionable decision. Given what he knew about the video, and taking Rice's record into consideration, he still gave the coach a public endorsement at season's end.
"Of course he's coming back," Pernetti said at the time. "It's been an interesting year to say the least, and while I think in one case some of the progress - and there's been a lot of progress - doesn't show, and that's in the win-loss column. I would like it to show there. I think everyone in the program would. But you can definitely see us getting better."