Gov. Chris Christie issued a statement Friday calling Pernetti’s resignation “appropriate and necessary given the events of the past six months.
“I commend President Barchi for his decisive leadership in coming to an agreement with Mr. Pernetti to have the Athletic Department of Rutgers University come under new leadership,” he said. “This entire incident was regrettable and while it has damaged the reputation of our state University, we need to move forward now on a number of fronts which provide great opportunities for Rutgers’ future.”
Pernetti said in his resignation letter to Barchi that he has “spent a great deal of time reflecting on the events which led to today. As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice’s behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel.
“Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved.”
Pernetti’s finest hour may have been when he helped in the school’s move to the Big Ten Conference, which means millions in additional revenue by way of television contracts and more national exposure, especially in football. The move, which becomes official in 2014, should provide a big boost to the program in recruiting and season ticket sales. The Scarlet Knights will continue to play next season in the Big East.
Pernetti’s first major move as athletic director came in May 2010, when he hired the volatile Rice away from Robert Morris, which he took to two NCAA tournament appearances.
“He convinced me he understood his reputation, but he also understood where the line was,” Pernetti said, referring to Rice. “I made clear to him if he crossed the line he would be held accountable.”
Pernetti viewed Rice as the man who could turn the perennially underachieving program around.
It didn’t happen. Rice went 44-51 in three years and posted a 16-38 mark in the Big East after going 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season, including 5-13 in the league.