Eric LeGrand and Ray Rice were among the notable former Rutgers athletes who expressed their support of athletic director Tim Pernetti (pictured), who resigned Friday amid the scandal over fired basketball coach Mike Rice.
Rice was suspended three games by the school in December after school officials saw video of him physically and verbally abusing his players in practice. Once that video was shown by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” this week, many were outraged over the coach’s behavior. There were immediate calls for Rice to be fired, and questions about why Pernetti continued to employ him.
Pernetti resigned, saying he wished he had moved to fire the coach in December. He said in his statement that the school was hesitant to fire the coach before reviewing the whole legal process.
“I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the events which led to today,” Pernetti said in his letter. “As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice’s behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel. Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved.”
That may not have been entirely accurate, because some say Pernetti could have reasonably fired Rice on account of misconduct.
Former Rutgers football players Ray Rice and Eric LeGrand were supportive of Pernetti during the controversy. Rice, a running back for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, called Pernetti a “great man” and lauded him for getting Rutgers in the Big Ten.
Big 10 doesn’t happen without Mr. Pernetti He has done a GREAT job for RU, our future is bright with him leading us. #greatman
— Ray Rice (@RayRice27) April 5, 2013
LeGrand, a former RU offensive lineman who was paralyzed in an October 2010 game, was even more supportive of Pernetti: