Rutgers Scandal Part II: Head’s Roll

Rutgers Scandal Part II: Head’s Roll


Please read the previous post to understand that on April 3rd, Rutgers athletic director, Tim Pernetti, fired head basketball coach, Mike Rice, for physically and verbally abusing his players over an extended period of time.  End of story, right? Wrong! On April 5, under public pressure, Pernetti resigns as athletic director. Rutgers President, Dr. Barchi cited a lack of judgment and a failure of process regarding the Coach Rice case. In other words, he fired Pernetti because he disagreed with Pernetti’s approach of rehabilitating the coach. (Athletic Director Pernetti Resigns)

Author’s Perspective: I agree that former coach Mike Rice should have been fired.  He was fired for an extended history of abuse that is really inexcusable. Easy call. This one is not so clear-cut and a little more complicated. Let’s examine the issue further:

Point: Pernetti saw the tape and he should have had the same reaction that the rest of us did – deeply appalled, disturbed and drawn to protect the players. The decision on how to reprimand Coach Rice was mainly left to his discretion and judgment. He made the wrong call, which taints his ability to make sound decisions, create a positive culture at Rutgers and look out for the well-being of the student-athletes. He chose to protect his coach rather than protect the players.

Counter-Point: Upon seeing the video, Pernetti reported it up the chain of command. He told the president and the board of trustees. Other university officials watched the video. An independent investigation was launched to talk to players, former players and employees. University lawyers were consulted. In collaboration with various university officials, Pernetti decided to suspend Coach Rice for 3 games, fine him $50,000, mandate anger management classes and put him on a zero tolerance contract. Pernetti decided to give the coach a second chance, essentially following university protocol of a “first offense.”

To me, this  decision is a tough one. I would look at this in context of Pernetti’s overall record at Rutgers. Aside from this, what are his accomplishments? How do people view him? What kind of leadership style does he possess? His actions were not heinous or egregious. He made a judgment call after consulting superiors at the university, and I don’t think this one decision warrants Pernetti being fired. For if you do hold the athletic director culpable, you should do the same for those who were consulted, including the president and members of the board… And, we should also hold ball-boys, assistant coaches, players, trainers  and the like responsible for witnessing this abuse on a daily basis and maintaining a code of silence.

As you will see in the next video, the President’s job is now in jeopardy. Where should this story end? (should Dr. Barchi resign?)

Your Turn:
1) Would you have fired athletic director, Tim Pernetti?
2) Would you fire the President and others associated with the “non-firing” of Mike Rice?
3) Do you believe that grown adults who witnessed this abusive behavior for years and said nothing should share some responsibility?
4) If you have video evidence of a student at your school repeatedly bullying students, should the student be expelled forever or given detention and counseling?  If the principal sees the video and decides to go the latter route, should he be fired? What if the principal shows the video at a school board meeting and they agree with her decision? Should they all be fired? What should happen to the students who witnessed the bullying and did nothing for years?

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