Tim Pernetti (right) at the press conference introducing Mike Rice.

Tim Pernetti (right) at the press conference introducing Mike Rice.

It’s still unclear whether Pernetti was fired or resigned under pressure, but the result is the same. The former Scarlet Knights tight end, who guided his alma mater out of the disintegrating Big East conference and into the lucrative Big Ten, has lost his job in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal. A press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday.

Pernetti made Rice his first major hire after taking over the AD position, and it was the move that ended up haunting him and eventually costing him his job. He had the backing of the school’s well-heeled boosters, but public pressure and appeals from at least 50 Rutgers professors calling for Pernetti’s ouster won out.

The Bergen county resident had fired Rice at 9 am on Wednesday morning, less than a day after a damning videotape of the latter’s unacceptable behavior during practice was aired on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” The 40-minute tape showed Rice pushing, kicking and throwing balls at players, and using homophobic or gay slurs.

The video had been presented to Pernetti on Nov. 26 – six days after news broke of Rutgers’ move to the Big Ten – by disgruntled former basketball assistant Eric Murdock, who had been relieved of his duties in July.

Murdock, a Bridgewater-Raritan (NJ) West grad who played nine years in the NBA, claims he told Pernetti about Rice’s behavior in June, but was fired the next month. Pernetti had countered that the former All-American simply didn’t have his contract as director of player development renewed after falling out over a camp.

Murdock had gone against Rice’s orders and attended his son’s camp rather than Rice’s on the same day, and that was the beginning of the end for Murdock. Now, Murdock’s video spelled the end for Pernetti.

Pernetti hired an outside investigation on Nov. 27, and after Rice capitulated, Pernetti chose not to fire the coach but fine him $50,000, suspend him for three games and mandate anger management counseling. But when the video found its way to ESPN, school president Robert Barchi – who had signed off on Pernetti’s decision – fired Rice on Wednesday and now Pernetti Friday.

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