More Rutgers faculty seek firings in coach case


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A growing number of faculty at Rutgers University are calling for additional firings after a video surfaced of the men’s basketball coach shoving and berating players with gay slurs.

Coach Mike Rice was fired Wednesday.

More than 50 faculty have signed a letter calling for the dismissal of Athletic Director Tim Pernetti. They also want President Robert Barchi (BAR’-chee) to explain why he didn’t fire Rice immediately after learning of the video in December.

Photo by AP
Photo by AP

Meanwhile, the number of professors signing a separate letter demanding Barchi step down has more than doubled to at least 28. That letter calls the president’s handling of the whole episode “inexcusable.”

The president had initially agreed with a decision to discipline the coach rather than have him let go. But he says he changed his mind after viewing the video this week.

HIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Mike Rice was fired as the Rutgers men’s basketball coach after a video surfaced showing him shoving players and berating them with gay slurs, but critics said New Jersey’s flagship public university still has more explaining — and maybe some more firing — to do.

A group of 13 faculty members Wednesday demanded that university President Robert Barchi resign for his “inexcusable handling” of the situation.

Alumni, lawmakers and a gay-rights group are among those calling for an investigation into why university officials took months to fire Rice after getting the video from a former basketball program employee in a scandal that touches on two long-standing issues on campus: the role of sports and the treatment of gays.

“If the roles were reversed and this was a professor and not a coach and this was a student in the classroom as opposed to a collegiate player this would be completely different. You wouldn’t say, ‘This was a first offense,'” said Glenn Articolo, a radiologist who lives in Marlton and a 1991 Rutgers graduate. “There’s not a single employee at Rutgers University from the president to the janitor who wouldn’t be dismissed immediately. It seems there’s a double standard when it comes to the basketball coach or the football coach.”

Some alumni say athletic director Tim Pernetti should also be dismissed and some are questioning what Barchi knew, and when.

In a statement Wednesday, Barchi, who took office in September, said he was told of the video in November and agreed that it would be appropriate to suspend Rice, fine him and send him to anger management counseling. But he said he saw the video for himself only this week, and it was then that he decided Rice should be fired.

Pernetti also issued a statement Wednesday, but he and Barchi were not made available to answer reporters’ questions.

Because he lasted the season, Rice is due a $100,000 bonus on top of his salary. He was paid $622,500 in 2012. Athletic Department spokesman Jason Baum said he’ll get the bonus for coaching the final game of the 2012-13 season last month because it’s contractually obligated.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat who spoke about the topic on several radio and television shows Wednesday, is calling for legislative hearings on the details.

The gay-rights group Garden State Equality also called for an investigation.

Much of the anger over the university’s handling of the situation came because Rice was not fired until after the public saw the video.

“Why did they fire him? Just because the tape came out?” asked Jim Walton, a 1980 Rutgers graduate who is now a compliance and ethics manager in Philadelphia. “They already knew the truth. If he should have been fired today, he should have been fired a long time ago.”

Some at Rutgers, a long-time also-ran in major sports, have been debating for years whether it’s been worth it to spend more money and put more focus on trying to elevate the university’s football and men’s basketball programs.

The university has also dealt with how gay students are treated since Tyler Clementi, a freshman there, killed himself in 2010 days after learning his roommate had used a webcam to see him kissing another man. The roommate spent 20 days in jail last year after a jury convicted him of bias intimidation and other crimes in a case that sparked policy changes to try to make Rutgers friendlier to gay students.

“After the suicide of Tyler Clementi, I thought my alma mater would take the use of gay slurs by any member of the Rutgers community — students, faculty, administrators, or coaches — seriously,” said Debbie Hadley, a 1991 Rutgers graduate who is a naturalist in Jackson. “Clearly, Tim Pernetti did not. And yes, I believe he should be fired, too.”

Some students agreed that the coach needed to be ousted.

Alison Coopersmith, an 18-year-old first-year student majoring in political science said that if gay slurs are not tolerated by students, they shouldn’t be tolerated by professionals, either.

“It’s worse when they’re in a position of power,” she said.

But on campus, not everyone was up in arms Wednesday.

Taylor Akers, a 19-year-old sophomore pre-med major, said Rice should not have been fired. “That happens all the time,” he said.

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