Sweeney says Rutgers’ Pernetti ‘must go’

TRENTON — Rutgers University’s athletic director is the latest college official that at least one state lawmaker is calling on to resign or be fired.

Senate President Steve Sweeney issued a statement Thursday afternoon calling on Athletic Director Tim Pernetti to “either step down or be fired immediately.” The statement comes a day after Rutgers fired the college’s head basketball coach following the release of a video showing him verbally and physically abusing players.

Pernetti has been criticized by New Jersey officials and lawmakers following ESPN’s airing of the video for not taking swifter action against Coach Mike Rice when Pernetti first learned of the videos late last year.

“It is becoming abundantly clear that Tim Pernetti cannot remain in his position as athletic director at Rutgers.  For the good of the school, its students and its faculty, he should either resign or be removed from his position immediately,” Sweeney said. 

“This incident will continue to hang over Rutgers like a dark cloud for weeks, months and perhaps years to come.  It seems pretty clear that things were not handled well from the start.  Now we have also learned that Mr. Rice is eligible for a $100,000 bonus for finishing out the season, money he would not have gotten had he been fired last year.  That fact makes his suspension and fine look even more ridiculous,” he said.

“How long does anyone think a professor at Rutgers would have lasted if they yelled at their students, called them homophobic slurs and threw books at their heads when they answered a question wrong?  The response after watching the video should have been immediate, clear and final.” Sweeney says Rutgers’ Pernetti ‘must go’