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A Look at Rutgers’ Missteps Since Joining Big Ten

Rutgers President Robert Barchi has been in the middle of controversy since taking office last September.Rutgers President Robert Barchi has been in the middle of controversy since taking office last September.

On Nov. 20 of last year, Rutgers was on top of the college athletics world.

On that date, decades of building a once-moribund athletic program finally paid off—the school was accepted as a member of the Big Ten, a major step up from the disintegrating Big East and a proud moment for the state university of New Jersey.

How things have changed.

Since then, men’s basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired for hurling balls and curses at players during practice, athletic director Tim Pernetti and an assistant coach have resigned, and a full-scale investigation into all sports at the New Brunswick school has been put into motion.

And now there are questions surrounding the history of both the new hoops coach and new athletic director.

It turns out Rice’s replacement, Eddie Jordan, was not a graduate of Rutgers—just a former student-athlete for the Scarlet Knights. And Pernetti’s replacement, Julie Hermann, was embroiled in bad relationships with some of her players and an assistant at Tennessee, while she was the women’s volleyball coach in the 1990s.

A look back at Rutgers’ controversial journey:

JULY 2, 2012: Eric Murdock, player development director for men’s basketball, is fired after he skips a youth camp run by Rice, according to a lawsuit. Murdock says the university told him his contract wasn’t being renewed.

JULY 11: Murdock’s lawyer sends a letter to the Rutgers interim president and other university officials, claiming Murdock was improperly fired in retaliation for discussing alleged misconduct by Rice.

SEPT. 1: Robert Barchi takes office as Rutgers’ president.

NOV. 20: Rutgers is accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference, scheduled to start in 2014.

NOV. 26: Murdock’s lawyer gives Pernetti a 30-minute DVD of edited video clips culled from hundreds of hours of Rice’s practices. The clips show Rice kicking and throwing basketballs at players, shoving them and berating them with foul language and anti-gay slurs.

NOV. 27: Rutgers hires a law firm to investigate the incidents.

DEC. 13: Rutgers announces that Rice will be suspended without pay for three games, and fined $50,000. He is also ordered to undergo anger management counseling.

APRIL 2, 2013: ESPN airs clips from Murdock’s video. Pernetti shows the video to other media outlets and to Barchi.

APRIL 3: Rice is fired. A group of faculty members call for Barchi to resign or be fired and politicians call for Pernetti to lose his job.

APRIL 4: Interim senior vice president and university counsel John Wolf, who had agreed that Rice should be suspended rather than fired, steps down from that position. Also, assistant basketball coach Jimmy Martelli resigns.

APRIL 5: Pernetti resigns. Murdock files a wrongful termination lawsuit against Rutgers. The chairman of the Rutgers board, Ralph Izzo, says Barchi will not be fired.

APRIL 19: Men’s lacrosse coach Brian Brecht is suspended with pay following allegations of verbal abuse, the result of a school-wide investigation into the coaching tendencies of all sports.

APRIL 23: Former Rutgers point guard Eddie Jordan, a member of the school’s Hall of Fame, is hired to replace Rice.

MAY 10: Rutgers admits that Jordan is not a graduate of the university as the school had claimed. Jordan’s biography on the athletic department’s website says he earned a degree in health and physical education in 1977. The registrar’s office at the university says he earned 103 credit hours from 1973 to 1985, not enough for a degree.

MAY 14: Brecht is reinstated after a university investigation finds that the coach used inappropriate language and exhibited unprofessional behavior on occasion at practices. The instances were infrequent and not directed at individual players so the university found no criminal or university policy violations. While out, he missed the lacrosse team’s final two games, both losses.

MAY 15: Rutgers names Julie Hermann, the No. 2 sports administrator at Louisville, as its new athletic director.

MAY 26: The Star-Ledger of Newark reports that the players on the 1996 University of Tennessee women’s volleyball team that was coached by Hermann wrote a letter complaining that she ruled the program through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse.

MAY 27: On a conference call with reporters, Hermann says she is not considering a resignation, and Barchi issues an emailed statement in support of her.

MAY 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he has “absolute confidence” in Barchi. He says he won’t micromanage the university or discuss whether Hermann should start at the school as scheduled on June 17. “Let’s not engage in the character assassination that’s going on here,” Christie says. “I understand that there are some people that feel differently about it. It doesn’t matter. What matters is: what did the administration at Rutgers believe?”

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