As Ken Harrelson would say, “He gone”.
This morning I woke up to news that yet another Rutgers official would get the axe. This time it was their now infamous Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti. All of this comes after the release of countless hours of video portraying now fired basketball coach Mike Rice abusing and degrading his student-athletes. But you already knew that.
As my alma-mater flails in the public relations shit storm that seems to somehow make its way back to the New Brunswick campus every couple of years, I can’t help but feel sorry for Pernetti. As Athletic Director, Pernetti has done many great things for Rutgers University. Unfortunately, however, he fell victim to a viral video mixed with a hint of overreaction and a dash of irresponsibility.
I’m not defending Rice here, or saying that Pernetti was unjustly fired. My feelings are that the media caught wind of this story and forced Rutgers into a decision that would please the nation and the professors who have been up in arms for years on the finances of the athletic department. As policy makers and journalist weighed in with their opinion, the snowball continued to roll downhill.
There is no denying that Pernetti acknowledged the situation back when he was first made aware of it. Although the punishment wasn’t as severe as every talking head would have hoped, there is no precedent for Pernetti to go off of here. He did what he thought was the right move with a suspension, a fine, and getting Mike Rice some counseling. Label me biased, but that seems like a responsible move that Pernetti and others on his staff agreed upon.
Sure, in retrospect, Pernetti could have reacted more harshly and fired Rice on the spot back in November. But does he deserve to be caught up in this “scandal” because his effort was not strong enough? If this is 10 years earlier, I think Pernetti keeps his job and this video stays on the hush hush.
Pernetti has been a great AD for Rutgers, getting them out of sinking ship that is the Big East and into the Big 10, handling the departure of Greg Schiano and finding a suitable replacement in Kyle Flood, and improving the program as a whole. I hope that Rutgers can soon find an athletic director and basketball coach who will push this dark cloud out to sea.
Weigh in on the matter here or on Twitter @theorangewedge.