Timeline: Mike Rice Scandal Unfolds at Rutgers

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—According to a report commissioned by Rutgers officials, several members of the school's administration knew about the alleged misconduct of head basketball coach Mike Rice months before the scandal unfolded last week.

In May 2010, Athletic Director Tim Pernetti hired Rice as the Rutgers men's basketball coach.  Rice allegedly abused the team's players, calling them names including homophobic slurs and throwing basketballs at their heads and bodies.

Following the release of damning video evidence, the scandal unfolded quickly last week, months after officials decided to suspend and fine Rice, rather than fire him for physically and verbally abusing players.

Based upon details made available in a report issued by the university and reports in other media outlets, the following is a timeline of the events that precipitated the scandal, and the dramatic twists and turns of the past week:

June 22 – Rice holds a meeting to establish the roles that basketball staff members would hold during the upcoming basketball skills camp. Director of Player Development Eric Murdock is a commissioner, and thus has to supervise the activities of a group of camp attendees.

June 25 to June 28 – Mike Rice holds a basketball skills camp, which Murdock is expected to attend.

June 26 – According to Murdock, Rice "fires" him during a phone call for not following Rice's instructions to stay put at the basketball camp.  Murdock wants to speak at another basketball camp, being held in Bridgewater.  Coach Rice says no.  Murdock asks him again, and Rice responds that it would not be fair to excuse Murdock from attending the Rutgers camp.

Rice asks Murdock to meet with him to discuss this disobedience the following Monday, July 2.  Murdock calls associate head coach David Cox, who advises Murdock to return to the Rutgers camp.  Murdock does so late in the day.

Rice tells camp director Josh Loeffler to direct Murdock to leave the campgrounds immediately, reiterating the Monday meeting time. It is unclear to Murdock whether or not Rice is trying to fire Murdock.

June 29 – Rice calls Murdock to set the appointment time for the Monday meeting. Murdock wants to discuss the basketball camp conflicts before the meeting, but Rice refuses. Murdock then allegedly taunts Rice, calling him names in an attempt to get Rice to fire him, but Rice refuses to budge.

Murdock heads to the Rutgers basketball offices with his girlfriend, where he is secretly recorded by an assistant coach.

Murdock tells assistant coach Cox, who is recording, that Loeffler had fired him, and that he was at the office to pick up his belongings. Murdock bashes Rice, asserting that he was more experienced than Rice, and calls Rice a "greedy fucking pig."

Neither Murdock nor Rice attempt to confront each other, however, and Murdock and his girlfriend leave.

Pernetti calls Murdock over the phone, asking Murdock what happened.  Murdock claims that he had been fired, but Pernetti points out that only he actually has the authority to fire Murdock.  In the presence of several witnesses, Pernetti says to Murdock that he was not fired.  Pernetti tries to persuade Murdock to attend the meeting already established on July 2.

July 2 – Murdock doesn't show up for the meeting.  Pernetti decides not to negotiate a new contract with Murdock, allowing it to expire.

July 11 – Eric Murdock's lawyer, Barry Kozyra, sends a letter to Rutgers claiming that Murdock was wrongly fired from his job as the men's basketball Director of Player Development.  The reasons cited are Murdock's discussions and questions with other Rutgers community members about Mike Rice's alleged misbehavior.  Kozyra admits that Murdock had not notified Pernetti about Rice’s actions, however.

That same day, Murdock's lawyer makes an Open Public Records Act request for Rutgers' basketball practice videos to Pernetti and Interim Rutgers President Richard Edwards.

Mid-July – Pernetti grills Coach Rice on his actions and coaching style.  Rice admits he was aggressive, but he fails to speak of some of his less appropriate actions.

July through November – Murdock's lawyer and Rutgers lawyers engage in a months-long discussion about the matter of the head coach's behavior, while Murdock compiles and produces a video compilation of Rice's misbehavior.

November 4 – The Scarlet Knights begin their third year with Rice at the helm, winning an exhibition game 92-52.

November 20 – A scheduled meeting between Murdock and Rutgers officials is cancelled.  Instead, Pernetti and University President Robert Barchi announce the school will be joining the Big Ten athletic conference, leaving behind the faltering Big East.

November 26 – Murdock's lawyer gives Pernetti the DVD containing the videos of Rice’s misbehavior at a meeting that included Murdock, Janine Purcaro, the CFO and human resources director for the athletics department, and lawyers for Rutgers.  The video is screened for all in attendance.

November 27 – Rutgers general counsel John Wolf, and Associate Director Pernetti meet with John Lacey of Connell Foley LLP.  Rutgers immediately hires the firm to investigate accusations leveled by Murdock's lawyer Kozyra.

According to the eventual report, four categories of accusations are looked into:

  • whether Rice's behavior contributed to a hostile work environment
  • whether Rice violated Rutgers' anti-bullying/harassment/assault policies
  • whether Rice violated NCAA rules
  • whether Rice had violated the Rutgers Conscientious Employee Protection Policy

December 13 – Mike Rice is suspended for three games without pay and required to pay a $50,000 fine.  According to the Star-Ledger, multiple sources said that the punishment "followed an internal investigation that revealed abusive, profane language used by Rice toward his players and an incident during his first or second season in which Rice threw basketballs at some players' heads during practice."

December 27 – Eric Murdock's attorney sends a letter to Rutgers, seeking a $950,000 settlement from the university to resolve issues between Murdock and his former employer.

January 21, 2013 – Connell Foley LLP issues their 50-page report, insisting that the university is not liable for creating a hostile work environment, as Murdock alleged.

March 13 – The team's season comes to an end in the second round of the Big East tournament.  Because Rice finished the season, he earns a $100,000 bonus.

April 2 – ESPN airs the footage and an interview with Murdock, along with commentary critical of Mike Rice on their investigative program "Outside the Lines."

A deluge of criticism befalls the university administration almost immediately, but Pernetti stands by the coach, referring to the incident as a "first-time offense."

According to Barchi, this is the date when he first saw the video compiled by Murdock, though Pernetti spoke to the contrary in a radio interview that same day.

April 3 – Pernetti and Barchi agree to fire Mike Rice, announcing the decision early in the business day.  Pressure mounts on both Pernetti and Barchi to resign for their oversight roles in the debacle.

April 4 – The University administration cancels a scheduled press conference as media swarms the campus and reports the dismissal of two additional Rutgers officials, including the school's top attorney John Wolf, and one of Rice's assistant coaches, Jimmy Martelli.

April 5 – Barchi and Pernetti jointly agree that Pernetti is to step down from his position, in an agreement that will pay Pernetti $1.2 million to voluntarily resign. Barchi apologizes for not asking to see the DVD, and says he relied on Pernetti's assertions when he agreed to suspend Rice.

Reporter at New Brunswick Today

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