While the Rutgers abuse scandal has played out, head coach Mike Rice, assistant Jimmy “Baby Rice” Martelli and athletic director Tim Pernetti have been purged from the university’s staff. Rutgers president Robert Barchi may be next to get the axe. However, the only character in the melodrama to emerge from the muck spotless appeared to be former assistant Eric Murdock. According to the NY Times, the unemployed ex-Rutgers assistant coach may have a few nicks in his own shining armor.
In December, a lawyer representing the former assistant, Eric Murdock, a retired N.B.A. player, sent a letter to the university demanding $950,000, according to a copy of the letter. The letter — which was first reported by ESPN on Friday — was sent two weeks after Rice was suspended for three games for the abusive behavior that eventually led to his firing Wednesday.
The university declined to pay the money demanded in the letter, and Murdock eventually publicized video footage that showed Rice kicking his players, throwing basketballs at them and taunting them with homophobic slurs. The footage has touched off a scandal that has led to the resignations or dismissals of at least four Rutgers officials.
Murdock filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against Rutgers and several university officials Friday, claiming that he was let go for being a whistle-blower. The university said it did not renew his contract after the 2012 season because he left Rice’s basketball camp early and without permission, among other factors.
James Tareco, a special agent with the F.B.I., visited Pernetti’s office and other locations at Rutgers, the university official said.
If the allegations against Murdock are true, it speaks to an issue broader than just the situation at Rutgers. High-stakes college sports are beginning to resemble a nefarious organization inhabited by individuals concerned with filling up their own pockets. Power corrupts and, while college basketball players are barred from profiting from their celebrity or skill, unscrupulous individuals are assuming leadership positions from the NCAA’s enforcement bureau to athletic departments tasked with guiding teenage student-athletes into adulthood. The list of individuals who have the best interests of their athletes in mind is dwindling every day. That’s a shame.