Rutgers administrators under fire

Don Van Natta Jr. discusses the latest detail in the firing of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice.

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- The call from faculty members and politicians to oust top Rutgers University administrators grew louder Thursday, a day after men's basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for mistreating players, including shoving them and berating them with gay slurs.

More than 50 faculty members signed a letter calling for the dismissal of athletic director Tim Pernetti and an explanation from president Robert Barchi for why he didn't fire Rice last year when he learned of a video showing Rice's behavior during practices.

Stephen Sweeney, the president of the state Senate, also called for Pernetti to step down or be fired. Pernetti deserves credit for getting Rutgers into the Big Ten conference, but he mishandled this situation, Sweeney said.

"This incident will continue to hang over Rutgers like a dark cloud for weeks, months and perhaps years to come," the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement. "It seems pretty clear that things were not handled well from the start."

Meanwhile, the number calling for Barchi to step down more than doubled Thursday to 28.

Rice was fired Wednesday after a video surfaced showing him shoving players and berating them with gay slurs, but critics said New Jersey's flagship public university has more explaining -- and maybe some more firing -- to do.

A gay-rights group also 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, N.J., 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 believe Pernetti should also be dismissed, and some are questioning what Barchi knew, and when. A source close to Rutgers' Board of Trustees told "Outside the Lines" on Wednesday that "Pernetti's job is safe" for now because of his prior work on getting Rutgers, currently a member of the Big East, into a lucrative deal to move into the Big Ten. The school will join that conference in 2014.

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 Rice lasted the season, he is due a $100,000 bonus on top of his salary. He was paid $622,500 in 2012. Athletic department spokesman Jason Baum said Rice will get the bonus for coaching the final game of the 2012-13 season last month because Rutgers is contractually obligated to do so.

A Rutgers official told ESPN on Thursday that there hasn't been a final resolution between the two parties as to what, if any, money Rice would receive from the final two years of his contract.

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.

The university also has 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, N.J. "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.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

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