I'm not certain of anyone, least of all Murdock himself, suggesting he should apply for sainthood. He does have an axe to grind, indeed. But my, what an axe!
I believe he was right to suggest not only compensation but at least evidence that the program was correcting itself from what he (and now, we) have witnessed. And I trust the apology Rice issued to the program was not satisfactory in Murdock's mind.
Forbes (12/14/2012)First, there was the much-televised incident last month of Morehead State coach Sean Woods shoving a player on the sideline which resulted in a one-game suspension. And yesterday Rutgers University coach Mike Rice was suspended for three games, fined $50,000 and banned from any contact with the program for foul language and inappropriate behavior, which included throwing basketballs at players’ heads during practice.
The problems for Rice may be just beginning, however, as former NBA star Eric Murdock, RU’s director of player development until he was fired last summer, promised to release tapes of Rice mistreating players if not compensated by the university.
Woods got plenty of media heat for the in-game shove (as did Mike Montgomery of Cal), and Murdock recognized that thrice the punishment for significantly more evidence of physical and verbal abuse was insufficient.
Forbes (12/14/2012)Quoted in The Newark Star-Ledger, Murdock said, “There is some concern for these players — that’s the biggest thing — as far as how they’re being treated. Eventually a lot of stuff will come to light and it’s not going to shed a good light on Rutgers University.”
We now know it wasn't so much a "firing" (which the media reported) as it was simply that Murdock's contract (probably annual, for collegiate player development coordinators) was not renewed. Murdock's actions would be more suspect had he taken the videos and immediately run to the news crews after his contract was not renewed. Instead, he followed the correct path for rectification. He spent two seasons complaining to his superior to change his behavior...
ESPNDuring the two years he worked for Rice, Murdock said he and the assistant coaches repeatedly urged the coach to try to control his anger with players, but "not much would change."
...then, he went to the athletic director, including while employed and when he was no longer obligated to report to him.
ESPNMurdock said Pernetti first heard about the allegations of Rice's treatment of players during practice formally last summer, but he chose to do "nothing about it for months."
However telling it is that Murdock took two seasons before bringing the problems to the higher-ups, it is all the more stark that actual assistant coaches witnessed the very same incidents conducted by Rice and remain on the bench beside him... perhaps, for never reporting their reservations to the department.
Murdock is free not only of the RU contract, but of any further intimidation from the head coach and the athletic department to keep evidence of what he witnessed in-house.
ESPNAfter seeing the videotape, Pernetti conducted an investigation that lasted less than (a) week before he announced Rice's three-game suspension and $50,000 fine. When Pernetti announced Rice's suspension, he told reporters "it involved some inappropriate behavior and language" between Rice and his players, but he offered few specifics. It is not known whether Pernetti interviewed players or independently reviewed other videotapes of Rice's behavior during practices.
It's also noteworthy that Murdock didn't even have to give the program time to complete their season. This particular media circus could have gone on while Rice was still coaching and the players Murdock cared about were still trying to compete.
While I'm disappointed in Rice, he took the punishment handed down to him by the AD, and the best anyone can do at this point is buy him out. My insistence on termination is directed toward not Rice, but Pernetti, one of the youngest ADs in D-I and one of the finalists for national AD of the year. However, Pernetti's crucial role in transitioning Rutgers into the Big 10 conference is part of the reason it will be hard for anyone above him to do anything about this.
Never mind whether repeatedly hurling basketballs like Patches O'Hoolihan ("If you can dodge an F-bomb, you can dodge a ball!") at unpadded players constitutes a fire-able offense.
This is an athletic department whose far more successful women's hoops program was the victim of a single quotation that literally ran a longtime radio shock jock underground, presented with evidence of its men's hoops coach calling his charges "p-----s," "sissy b-----s," and "c---s." It doesn't bode well for the recruitment of athletes of either gender that Rice's punishment consisted of not more than a 10% salary fine and 3 non-conference games watching from home.
This is also a program, under Pernetti, that canned the prior head basketball coach, Fred Hill, Jr., after he was "caught on tape" blistering a opposing college baseball coach with profanity (Hill's dad managed the baseball team for 27 years). It should be noted there was a buyout effort that Hill refused, but Penretti went ahead and fired him anyway. A single incident directed toward one individual precipitated Hill's dismissal. Yet Rice stays, for some reason.
EDIT: This is also a university still smarting from the Tyler Clementi case, with a head basketball coach hurling F-bombs and fairy accusations at people whose orientation, I assume, he doesn't know. Not that it should matter if he did. This school continues to try to recruit high-quality LGBT students, athletes or otherwise, with the Clementi cloud hanging over. And now, this.
Inadequate judgment in a sensitive personnel matter, resulting in public flagellation and diminution of competitive recruiting in a new high-profile conference, should be enough justification for Pernetti's dismissal.