The Buck Stalls Here Momentarily

I don’t follow sports, but yesterday I was waiting for a haircut and ESPN was on, and I saw the mealymouthed performance of the President of Rutgers University, Robert Barchi, commenting on the assholic behavior of his now-fired basketball coach, Mike Rice, and now-resigned Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti.

 

Barchi on Friday called the eight-month odyssey “a failure of process.” His news conference marked the end of a week that had news going from bad to worse at Rutgers. Four people have lost their jobs: Rice, who was fired Wednesday morning; Wolf, the in-house counsel who resigned that night; Jimmy Martelli, an assistant basketball coach who also resigned Wednesday; and, finally, Pernetti, who left office Friday in what Barchi described as a “mutual decision” of his and Pernetti’s.

Rice is the guy who, during practice, called his players gay slurs, beaned them with basketballs, and generally showered them with abuse. Since we’re still indulging the fantasy that NCAA Division I college basketball is something other than a farm team for the NBA, this behavior from an educator should have been a firing offense, but since Rice was a winning coach, nobody fired him. Now that someone leaked a tape of Rice’s greatest hits to ESPN, it’s house cleaning time at Rutgers. But Barchi clearly thinks he’s going to dodge the bullet even though there’s been a blood-letting among every other high-level official who got anywhere near that tape.

Unfortunately for “failure of process” Barchi, he was told about the tape by Pernetti in November, and given a chance to view it. He chose not to. It sounds to me like the process worked perfectly, because the AD raised a serious issue with his supervisor, who chose the “see no evil” approach. What failed is the human being at the top, not the fucking process.  I sure hope Barchi ends up like Graham Spanier, because if a few more of these overpaid bloviating presidents are reminded that they have other duties than fund-raising, they might not let the next Mike Rice or Jerry Sandusky hang around as long.

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60 replies
  1. 1
    Dr. Squid says:

    5-13 in the Big East is not a “winning coach”.

  2. 2
    mistermix says:

    @Dr. Squid: Shows what I know about sports.

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    The FBI is also investigating Murdock the assistant coach, whose contract was not renewed. He was the person who leaked the video. According to the article, Murdock’s lawyer wrote a letter requesting 950,000 dollars.

  4. 4
    Arrik says:

    And then there’s Linda Katehi, who took “full responsibility” for the UC Davis pepper spray incident, and yet still sits in the Chancellor’s office.

  5. 5
    the Conster says:

    Sounds like the Sopranos were running the school – Murdock is lucky he wasn’t whacked. Shorter Brachi – mistakes were made.

  6. 6
    Felonius Monk says:

    Anyone want to put money on whether or not the Rutger’s Board of Trustees will man up and fire Brachi’s ass?

  7. 7
    Amir Khalid says:

    @JPL:
    Putting such a request in writing, especially when it could be interpreted as a blackmail demand, sounds criminally stupid.

  8. 8
    Pooh says:

    @Amir Khalid: it’s also standard legal maneuvering – pay me this and I won’t sue for wrongful termination.

  9. 9
    K488 says:

    When institutions are led by those who turn a blind eye to bad behavior, morale plummets and they become feral. Rutgers will have to get rid of Barchi if it wants to regain its footing as a good place to work.

  10. 10
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Pooh:
    Where does the line lie, between one and the other?

  11. 11
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    The line from Steubenville through Penn State to Rutgers is a pretty straight one. Jocks get a free pass for a lot of bad behavior.

  12. 12
    Ed in NJ says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    I won’t say much because as a Rutgers grad, it’s a losing proposition trying to overcome ESPN’s hatchet job, but here’s the thing: Rice wasn’t being protected because he’s some great coach who he didn’t want to fire. He wasn’t allowed to fire him. Plus, Pernetti truly felt the players supported him and put in a plan to rehabilitate him, which by all accounts was successful. He did everything above board and publicly (see the nationwide stories on Rice’s suspension in December if you don’t believe me). He’s hardly an asshole. He’s the fall guy for that idiot Barchi and the Board of Governors, who did not allow Pernetti to fire Rice when the behavior was first uncovered.

    Maybe at some point someone will ask Murdock why he witnessed all this stuff for two years and only reported it after his contract wasn’t renewed (for insubordination after refusing to attend Rutgers basketball camps).

  13. 13
    Ed in NJ says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    Wow, you’re a moron. There are no similarities whatsover between child fucking an raping unconsciousness women and a basketball coach with an anger problem. Not one Rutgers basketball player in this whole mess has claimed they were hurt in any way. Only one player even transferred (Gil Birutas), and that player left to join his high school coach, who was hired as the head coach at Rhode Island.

    I repeat, you are a moron.

  14. 14
    Ed in NJ says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    Sorry about the double post. But just to reiterate, you are a moron.

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    @Pooh: Depends if he’s going for a whistleblower defence, which is about the only thing that would save his bacon here. But this:

    @Ed in NJ:

    Maybe at some point someone will ask Murdock why he witnessed all this stuff for two years and only reported it after his contract wasn’t renewed (for insubordination after refusing to attend Rutgers basketball camps).

    doesn’t help his case at all.

  16. 16
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Ed in NJ:

    Ed, you don’t know me but I hope you’ll remember that I’m the guy who told you to go fuck yourself sideways with a rusty chainsaw while eating a bag of salted dicks instead of responding to your nonsensical reply.

    Have a nice day.

  17. 17
    Ed in NJ says:

    @K488:

    Again, there is alot of misinformation out there, mostly due to ESPN’s hatchet job. Nothing was covered up, and no “blind eye’s” were involved. Argue that the Rutgers administration was negligent in not just immediately firing Rice, but please stop with the cover up bullshit. Here is ESPN’s own reporting from December. The tapes were shown to Pernetti in November.

    Rice Suspended

  18. 18
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Yutsano: CBS’s reporting on the FBI investigation says that he is indeed claiming whistleblower status.

  19. 19
    Bob says:

    Mike Rice is not Jerry Sandusky or even Nambla. For an administrator, this was a close call. You take a year’s worth of video and distill it down to a few minutes of slaps and shoves roughly equivalent in intensity to “Shouldda hadda V-8” and some homophobic locker room insults. Then what do you do – do coaches never lay hands on players, do coaches never curse, do coaches never get angry? I think their suspension and fine was an appropriate punishment at the time for inappropriate behavior – we can’t, we don’t, do things this way at Rutgers and we won’t tolerate it. And that’s not even getting to the political considerations. What was his behavior after the suspension? Does anybody care?
    All this screaming for blood and more blood is pretty ugly. It’s what happens in academia, and the heads roll and the lawsuits pile up, and there are a lot of payouts. It sends a message, I suppose, and will cause other coaches with similar “approaches” to change their own behavior. But just firing the coach would have been enough for that. As long as everybody’s happy.

  20. 20
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Bob: Would that behavior be tolerated from a professor of chemical engineering?

  21. 21
    Todd says:

    Meh. Rice did what frustrated coaches with chronically underperforming teams do – shoved players around and cussed them. It doesn’t make him history’s greatest monster, but is the cherry on top of the decision to terminate.

    The next coach will operate from the position of positive reinforcement. Rice will go on to a place with a recruiting mix that may be better, hopefully having learned a lesson, and Rutgers admins will be more watchful of coaching behavior.

    Life will go on.

  22. 22
    Napoleon says:

    The process worked perfectly at Rudgers. They had a Big 10 application pending while this was happening. They managed to put off a reckoning long enough for that application to be accepted.

  23. 23
    K488 says:

    @Ed in NJ: My response was solely to the issue of the behavior of the president of the university, as reported in the post above. And in no way was I suggesting a cover-up; I was reflecting on what happens to institutions when the top person refuses to face an issue. I know – I’m leaving an institution that has gone feral for exactly this reason. I certainly don’t wish Rutgers ill; on the contrary, I hope that, whatever the case is here, it will continue to thrive. I see by your comment to Dr. Squid that your concerns also seem to be with the top governance of the University; by those lights, we seem to be making arguments that are at least aligned.

  24. 24
    themann1086 says:

    Let’s not forget that Rutgers University was the site of one of the suicides by gay youth after bullying. Remember, the kid whose roommate taped him with his bf and then posted it online? All the minimizing going on here and elsewhere is disgusting. “Coaches get frustrated sometimes and hit players, it’s normal!” Maybe it is “normal”, but if it is, then what’s “normal” has to change. Would anyone today accept the argument that “Husbands get frustrated and hit wives, it’s normal” or “Parents get frustrated and hit kids, it’s normal”? I don’t think so.

    The response by the AD (“I didn’t have a line of people outside my door complaining”) sealed his fate; my over/under for his firing was Monday, so the unders won. The only question for the president is whether he makes it to the end of may. He’ll definitely be gone before next year.

  25. 25
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    As long as Indiana was winning Bobby Knight got away with the stuff he was doing, ditto Woody Hayes, the real crime Rutgers was going nowhere in the eyes of the alumni, boosters and the school heads, the Auburn scandal ought to be interesting, if only Gene Chizik beat the Crimson Tide more times.

  26. 26
    Todd says:

    @themann1086:

    Let’s not forget that Rutgers University was the site of one of the suicides by gay youth after bullying. Remember, the kid whose roommate taped him with his bf and then posted it online? All the minimizing going on here and elsewhere is disgusting

    Oh, FFS, grow up. The sports world does not revolve around every slight or insult, real or perceived, involving gay men. It does, however, revolve to a huge extent around winning and money.

    This was about mediocrity and grumpy boosters. Nothing more.

  27. 27
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Was Sandusky an ex-athlete, too? Is that the point you were making, that a lot of athletes (and ex-athletes) get away with a lot of crap (sometimes including pedophilia)? At the risk of being called a moron and such, that seems like a fair point….

    There was a P.E. coach at my high school who for years — decades — had a reputation for getting involved with (humping) his females student/athletes. Eventually, he was outed for doing so and lost his job — wouldn’t that be pedophilia? He later opened a private business where he was busted for installing a camera in his female-employees’ changing room/bathroom. Then (for this activity) he actually got sent up the river for a couple years.

    Was Sandusky an ex-athlete-turned-assistant-coach? Is this the point you were making (again, that athletes/ex-athletes) often get away with crap? That’s demonstrably true, but so do all sorts of people: priests, politicians, and poets….

  28. 28
    Todd says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    As long as Indiana was winning Bobby Knight got away with the stuff he was doing, ditto Woody Hayes, the real crime Rutgers was going nowhere in the eyes of the alumni, boosters and the school heads

    This.

  29. 29
    West of the Rockies says:

    Oh, and count me among those who think that most college/university presidents are quite over-paid for the actual amount of true labor they do. It’s not unusual for them to get a big salary, free housing, a car, loads of vacation & sick leave, a cushy office, oodles of free meals and snacks and so forth. They get to attend conferences in Vegas and Orlando and so forth. And for this they come home with monthly checks of, what, $10,000? $20,000? More? A lot more?

  30. 30
    lonesomerobot says:

    It still strikes me as unbelievable that many humans over a certain age don’t understand that if video exists, it will eventually be seen by everyone. The only explanation (not excuse, mind you) is that Rutgers was at the time under consideration for joining the Big Ten and they didn’t want this coming out and harming their chances.

    As for anyone who would ‘ho hum’ or ‘meh’ this, you are an idiot. I’m looking at you, @Todd. The physical abuse is inexcusable and basically identifies this guy as a shitty coach. Not only that, but what happens in those videos qualifies as assault and that’s against the law. I had a coach in sixth grade who did almost exactly the things this Rutgers coach did, including throwing basketballs at 12-13 year old players’ heads (including my own). It did not motivate me to play better, it made me hate that man for the rest of my life and hope he croaks from a massive, lengthy and painful coronary. I couldn’t wait to graduate from that team, and in subsequent years never again had a coach that engaged in that kind of behavior; it’s no surprise to me that my best days of playing weren’t under that coach. If you can’t motivate your players without calling them fairies and throwing basketballs at them, you need to find a new line of work. Thankfully in this case, Mr. Rice will no longer be coaching any time soon.

  31. 31
    K488 says:

    @West of the Rockies: More. Sometimes a lot more. Think salaries from 700K on up for some institutions.

  32. 32
    👽 Martin says:

    So, does anyone still believe that everyone from Paterno up to the Chancellor of Penn State didn’t know about Sandusky’s behavior? Everyone from that point up on the org chart should have been fired, and in many cases charged.

    Div 1 sports needs to be destroyed in its current form.

  33. 33
    West of the Rockies says:

    @K488: Can’t tell you how much my mind is boggled… There was one semester where I taught a full-time load at one jc and two classes at another. I was extremely busy, constantly grading essays, returning emails and such. For three astonishing months I brought home about $6,000 and felt like I was wealthy. (Normally, I’d bring home half that….) I guess one gets used to wealth. I sometimes wonder if I lead the financial life I do because of a deep and abiding fear that wealth brings out one’s inner-asshole. (I don’t think it has to, but I sure see it happen often enough!) :)

  34. 34
    Persia says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Only if the guy made Flubber for the basketball team’s shoes. But athletics are a magic formula that lets men act as horrible, violent and disgusting as they want to, and if anyone objects they just ‘don’t understand.’ Fuck that.

    (EDIT: Why ‘men?’ I doubt a female coach could get away with half that shit.)

  35. 35
    Sgaile-beairt says:

    he also called them misogynist slurs but the news for some reason,isnt talking about that….

    its like a perfect storm of insecure machismo….

  36. 36
    Bob says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Of course not, faculty are not equivalent to coaches and everybody knows that. You can’t curse or raise your voice or lay hands on a student in a classroom. Try imposing that on coaches and see how far you get. That doesn’t mean the alternative is, “athletics are a magic formula that lets men act as horrible, violent and disgusting as they want to” (@Persia). The point is where to draw the line and what disciplinary actions are appropriate when the line is crossed. Too bad that point is, at the moment, too subtle for most discussion on this topic, while we howl for more heads.

  37. 37
    K488 says:

    @West of the Rockies: I can’t allow myself to look at the (publicly recorded) salaries of the administrators at my soon-to-be former institution. And, of course, they are dwarfed by the salaries of the coaches in the big-time athletic department. Large universities (and some not so large, as well as a whole lot of private colleges) are run like corporations, with only the merest wisp of a nod towards faculty governance. And when you have administrators seeing themselves as the reason for the institution’s existence, rather than facilitating the work of the faculty, you get what we all too often have in place today. Don’t get me wrong – some administrators are terrific, and do wonderful things for their schools. But I’ve seen too much overpaid incompetence ever to trust blindly that good efforts will be the norm.

  38. 38
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Persia: You’re right about some people seeing nothing wrong with Rice’s behavior. I can hear such people protesting that “We’re raising a nation of crybabies and whiners…” We saw Malkin and Hannity claim they turned out just fine despite having been whipped with leather belts and worse. Athletics creates some very inhuman responses in some people. I can recall during the height of the steroid era some “fans” saying they really didn’t care of athletes took steroids and eventually died young of some horrible cancer: “I want my homeruns, damnit! I want to see a quarterback squashed into a patty of hamburger! That’s the way the game is supposed to be played!”

  39. 39
    Paul Gottlieb says:

    It’s time to consider nominating Latrell Sprewell for the Nobel Peace Prize. The man may have had his flaws, but he was a visionary when it came to handling an abusive coach

  40. 40
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Paul Gottlieb: You win the thread.

  41. 41
    West of the Rockies says:

    @K488: I agree: there are some good people doing great work in administration. I’d “go to the dark side” of administration if I had the chance, I’m sure — it would beat this semester-to-semester, will I get two classes at this school and that school, will they make, will I get hired back business.

  42. 42
    K488 says:

    @West of the Rockies: My heart goes out to you! Alas, it is that business sense of how much we can squeeze out of semester-to-semester teachers that runs through an awful lot of the administrative level. Of course, they’re being pushed by Boards of Regents or the like, some of whom are serving with little experience beyond business. The concept of students as consumers got wound into the fabric of my school more than 20 years ago, and the students have taken up the attitude. When faculty are seen as service providers, there is pressure to play to the attitude that the customer is always right. But that’s a lousy model for education.

  43. 43
    Buckyblue says:

    The same attitude that allowed Sandusky to continue, allowed Rice to continue. No, Rice wasn’t butt fucking his player but they both had administration turn a blind eye until the public found out, then holy shit. I know he had been disciplined and offered help but this clearly required more than was given. Don’t count on the players response to give you a clue as to how bad the situation was. For the most part, they don’t know any better. They also don’t want to transfer because they lose a year of eligibility and other schools don’t rally want them. They can’t talk with other team coaches because of NCAA restrictions. So a kid has to take kind of a blind leap when he transfers schools. And if he’s not a stud, and it doesn’t look like anyone on this team was, no other coach will want them. So the players are stuck with whatever asshole coach they have. I will guarantee you that this is not the first time this has happened and Peretti hired a guy who had a history of doing this shit.

  44. 44
    DesertFriar says:

    @Ed in NJ: Well as a Providence College grad maybe I should come to Murdock’s defense (although the whole idea of coming to the defense of a whistle blower who had to know he’d never get a job in coaching is laughable). But then again, the people in power always get the benefit of the doubt.

    1) Eric attended the same High School Basketball Camp the year before with no problems from Rice.

    2) He was there because his son was attending the camp.

    3) He was; from what I can tell, a whole 35 minutes late for Rice’s camp.

    4) The Rice’s camp had the checks payable to “Coach Rice, LLC”, so it sounds like it was not an official “Rutgers” sponsored event (just that they allowed Coach Rice, LLC to use the facilities).

    5) If the Rice camp was not a “Rutgers” event, then why exactly should Murdock be “fired” from being a Rutgers employee? He could have been “fired” from the camp, but why from the University?

    6) There is NO REASON for Murdock to be fired from Rutgers because of the camp, it had to be something else. And I think everyone know what that thing was.

  45. 45
    West of the Rockies says:

    @K488: Thank you for the sympathy… yes, I know that academic institutions are now bottom-line oriented. I suspect that that approach will continue. My understanding is that there are plenty of people holding Ph.D.’s who are unemployed/underemployed in their fields. More and more tenure-track positions are disappearing (being replaced, of course, with adjunct positions). The historical university way of life is, for many people, a thing of the past. So what the hell else can I do with an M.A. in English lit? :(

  46. 46
    themann1086 says:

    @Todd: The irony of being told to “grow up” when discussing dead kids…

    Sure, the only reason he was fired was the negative media attention, but people were claiming it “wasn’t a big deal”, aka wasn’t worth the negative media attention. I made the argument that it is a big deal, citing it as going hand in hand with the gay bullying culture.

  47. 47
    West of the Rockies says:

    @themann1086: Well said.

  48. 48
    AnotherBruce says:

    @Paul Gottlieb: It takes the memory of a psychotic elephant to come up with humor like this. Well played!

  49. 49
    James E. Powell says:

    Since we’re still indulging the fantasy that NCAA Division I college basketball is something other than a farm team for the NBA

    I don’t think that’s it at all. Very few college players make it to the NBA. College basketball programs are local franchises of a national enterprise known as NCAA basketball.

  50. 50
    James E. Powell says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    Jocks get a free pass for a lot of bad behavior.

    It isn’t that they are jocks, it’s that they are useful to the powerful. Jocks aren’t protected because they are members of the ruling class; they are assets, commodities.

  51. 51
    fledrmaus says:

    The sorry thing about the situation is if he had been caught on tape handing $20 to each of his players instead of chucking basketballs at their heads, he would have been out on his ass in a microsecond, for cause.

  52. 52
    Darkrose says:

    The Rutgers thing was bad, but what has me seeing red is Louisville, and the way they’re exploiting the injury of Kevin Ware. They still haven’t said if Ware will still have his scholarship if he can’t play again; the NCAA rules allow it, but Louisville was one of the schools who voted against that change. There’s a $90,000 deductible before the NCAA catastrophic injury coverage kicks in. And yet Ware will see $0, including any money from the t-shirts capitalizing on his injury. It’s just not right.

  53. 53
    Ed in NJ says:

    @Buckyblue:

    Holy fuck, this shit pisses me off. You have to be willfully ignorant or a moron to write what you wrote.

    Rutgers became aware of the behavior in November, by mid-December Rice was suspended. THERE WAS NO COVERUP.

    Again, argue that the administration was lax in not firing Rice. I agree. But please stop with the coverup bullshit. Rutgers is a bad basketball program, with no nationwide appeal, so no one bothered to care in December when it was all over the news that Rice was suspended, with the exact reasons cited (including physical contact and homophobic slurs). But blind eye? Rice was banned from campus, suspended 3 games, forced to undergo psychological counseling and anger management, and a monitor was installed at all practices. By all accounts the students strongly supported him, so my guess is that the administration thought he was worth a second chance. But it was all done above-board, despite what you choose to believe from ESPN’s terrible hatchet job.

  54. 54
    West of the Rockies says:

    Ed in NJ, you’re real quick to call people morons (twice in this thread). I’m not trying to be snarky here, but you might want to try a little meditation or something; you seem inordinately pissed-off over other people’s opinions. Even if you’re right (after all, I don’t know that I’d look to ESPN for keen, in-depth journalism), you seem pretty quickly offended.

  55. 55
    LippyTheLion says:

    James E. Powell Says:

    Since we’re still indulging the fantasy that NCAA Division I college basketball is something other than a farm team for the NBA

    I don’t think that’s it at all. Very few college players make it to the NBA. College basketball programs are local franchises of a national enterprise known as NCAA basketball.

    @James E. Powell:
    Thank you, James. That tired old screed gets trotted out at tournament time every year and it’s bullshit.

  56. 56
    Johnny Scrum-half says:

    @Paul Gottlieb: You must be aware of some facts that I don’t know about. I don’t recall any allegations that Carlesimo was physical with Sprewell, but I do recall that Sprewell punched and choked Carlesimo.

  57. 57
    Buckyblue says:

    D1 schools aren’t so much an NBA feeder program as it’s own professional league. The only kicker is that the people who play the game see very little of the money. The universities and the coaches make millions while the players get four years of an education. That’s, of course, not nothing. But, compared to what coaches make, not even close. And when their four years is up, then the university is done with them whether they’re done with their degree or not. The least the universities could do is provide tuition for Xplayers until they get their degree. I prefer the NBA because of the hypocrisy of the college game. Tell me how a Jerry Tarkanian can be concerned about his players when he routinely had non-conference road games during the week, on the east coast. Whenever you see a mid-week ESPN game, one of the two teams is missing three days of classes. Graduating in four years is nearly impossible.

  58. 58
    LosGatosCA says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    He was projected to be 7-11 in the Big Ten or Ten plus 2 or 3 or 4.

    Rounding up to .500 that’s lots of gate receipts and a way bigger TV deal.

  59. 59
    Bob h says:

    As a NJ taxpayer, it is such an honor to be contributing to Barchi’s $750K salary.

  60. 60
    WereBear says:

    @West of the Rockies: We saw Malkin and Hannity claim they turned out just fine despite having been whipped with leather belts and worse.

    Jiminy Christmas. My theory that Right Wingers were beaten as children keeps getting support.

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