NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The call from faculty members and politicians to oust top Rutgers University administrators grew louder Thursday, a day after men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for mistreating players, including shoving them and berating them with gay slurs.
More than 50 faculty members signed a letter calling for the dismissal of Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and an explanation from President Robert Barchi for why he didn’t fire Rice last year when he learned of a video showing Rice’s behavior.
Stephen Sweeney, the president of the state Senate, also called for Pernetti to step down or be fired.
“This incident will continue to hang over Rutgers like a dark cloud for weeks, months and perhaps years to come,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement. “It seems pretty clear that things were not handled well from the start.”
Meanwhile, the number calling for Barchi to step down more than doubled Thursday to 28.
The letter calling for Barchi’s resignation was first sent to the university’s governing boards on Wednesday. In it, the faculty cite Barchi’s “inexcusable handling of coach Mike Rice’s homophobic and misogynist abuse” of players, his “continued pattern of insensitivity and arrogance toward issues of diversity” and the “secrecy and lack of transparency he exhibited in his relations” with students.
It’s unclear what effect the calls might have on the president or the athletic director. Neither was willing to be interviewed by The Associated Press on Wednesday or Thursday. Members of the university’s two governing boards have been mum.
Barchi said in a statement Wednesday that Pernetti told him last year about the video of Rice, but said he did not watch the video until the day it was made public.
In December, after the university consulted lawyers and commissioned an independent report on Rice’s actions, Barchi said he agreed to suspend the coach for three games, fine him and order him to anger management counseling.