Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti followed basketball coach Mike Rice out the door on Friday. Pernetti, widely criticized for his handling of the issues surrounding Rice's behavior with his players, was fired by the university, according to multiple reports. Two days earlier, Rice was dismissed after an ESPN story and video revealed his treatment of players that included throwing basketballs at them from close range, kicking them and using derogatory slurs. Assistant coach Jimmy Martelli, also accused of similar actions, resigned Thursday. Pernetti, 42, came under fire in November after Rutgers suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000 fine after seeing the video. University preisdent Robert Barchi had approved the punishment. However, ESPN reported Friday that Pernetti had shown the video to multiple university board members when he was first made aware of the issues and "at least three" of them agreed with his decision to suspend Rice. "I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,'' Pernetti said earlier. "Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was itn the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong.' 'A 1993 Rutgers graduate and a former tight end on the football team, Pernetti had worked as Scarlet Knights athletic director since April 2009 and was in the fourth year of a five-year contract with a $410,000 annual base salary. "This incident will continue to hang over Rutgers like a dark cloud for weeks, months and perhaps years to come," Stephen Sweeney, the president of the New Jersey State Senate, said Thursday. "It seems pretty clear that things were not handled well from the start." After Rice was fired, several players expressed support for him. And Pernetti received a strong endorsement from former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who was left paralyzed from injuries he suffered in a football game in 2010. "When you're in a situation like I have been for the past 2 1/2 years, you truly see the character of people," LeGrand told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Tim Pernetti has shown me and Rutgers how great of a person he really is, and how much he really cares."
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