Rutgers commissioning review of basketball scandal, settles salary with former athletic director
Mel Evans, ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEWARK, N.J. — Rutgers University announced Monday that it's commissioning an independent review of the conduct of fired basketball coach Mike Rice and the way the university handled the situation when it learned that he was kicking and shoving players and berating them with gay slurs in practice.
The review ensures that the saga will not end quickly or quietly.
A video of Rice's behavior was made public last week, more than five months after it was given to the university, which initially decided to suspend the coach, fine him and send him to anger-management counseling.
After it became public, the university fired Rice. Athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned and so did a university lawyer who had advised him and an assistant basketball coach. Some faculty members and others have also called for university President Robert Barchi to step down, though he's received support from the school's Board of Governors and Gov. Chris Christie.
Meanwhile, Rutgers and former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti have come to a settlement agreement on the terms of his resignation. Pernetti is getting $1.2 million in salary, plus an iPad, car allowance and more than two years of health insurance coverage under a settlement agreement.
Through an open records request to Rutgers University, the Associated Press learned that Pernetti is to be paid his base salary of $453,000 per year through June 2014 and a one-time payment of $679,500. He also gets his $12,000 per year car allowance through June 2014.
The scandal has prompted the FBI to investigate whether a former Rutgers basketball employee tried to extort money from the university before recording practices at which Rice was seen pushing and otherwise belittling players, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.
Rutgers said its Board of Governors will meet Thursday to discuss hiring the independent adviser to review the case.
Also Monday, board chairman Ralph Izzo said that one board member — athletics committee chairman Mark P. Hershhorn — had seen the video in December. Izzo said that it was not shown to other members and while the topic of the coach's conduct was discussed at a committee meeting in December, it was not discussed at the whole-board meeting that month. The university did not immediately respond to a request to interview Hershhorn.
On Monday, Barchi is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting that had been planned for last week but was postponed after a video surfaced showing Rice pushing players, throwing basketballs at them and berating them with invectives, including gay slurs.
The meeting was meant to address the sweeping plan to re-organize the state's higher education system, a priority of Gov. Chris Christie that the state legislature signed off on last year. The New Jersey Assembly will hold a budget hearing that will address the plan at the school Tuesday.
The goal, Barchi and state officials say, is to make Rutgers competitive with elite public institutions including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia. Strengthening the school would also bring in more tuition from out-of-state students who are charged more.
Barchi, a neurologist, was hired to help implement the transition and oversee a meshing of Rutgers and the state's University of Medicine and Dentistry. Some members of Rutgers' board of governors have expressed concern over the merger, because Rutgers would absorb $500 in the medical school's debt. The merger could cost up to $75 million, Barchi said in December.
Some say Barchi's plans for the university shortchange the school's campuses in Camden in Newark.
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