eric-murdockA White coach, curses, bullies, hits and hurls homophobic slurs at his mainly Black basketball team for years. No one says anything until a Black assistant coach brings the matter to light. The offending White coach is given a slap on the wrist. The Black assistant coach is fired. The fired Black assistant coach brings suit, and charges fly that the assistant coach was involved in extortion.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. The assistant coach, Eric Murdock, notified the college that unless they reached a settlement for wrongful termination, he would bring suit anytime after January 4, 2013. He released videotapes of the coach abusing his players two weeks ago, as a preliminary to his bringing suit, which he did last week. That is not extortion. That is simply notifying a party that unless they make amends, for what you perceive to be a wrong, you will take them to court. That is standard legal procedure.

Not only was the coach given the lightest tap on the wrist, he was allowed to fire the Black man who blew the whistle on him. The Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti, and the President of Rutgers, Robert Barchi, were aware of what Coach Rice had done to his players, signed on to the insignificant punishment for his actions, and knew that he fired the man who brought his behavior to light. At the very least, they should have restored the whistleblower to his former position. But they did not. Clearly, the man was being let go as punishment for raising the issue, and the Athletic Director and the President signed on to this action by not reversing it.

Now leaving racism, homophobia and the brutalizing of young athletes to the side, how could the  college officials have been so short-sighted? Did they expect the assistant coach to simply walk away and do nothing? In the storm of protest that followed the release of the videos, President Barchi fired Coach Rice and also the Athletic Director Tim Pernetti. However, he allowed them to walk away with millions of dollars for the years left on their contracts. If he had simply let them go “for cause,” they would not have been eligible for those funds.

Not surprisingly, President Barchi is on the ropes and may very well lose his jobs. His defenders, which include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, claim that he was only on the job for two months when the scandal broke, and he had numerous other pressing university wide issues to contend with. Let’s see if that flies. Whether it does or not, a few things seem clear. The leadership of Rutgers is racist, homophobic, short-sighted and does not possess basic commonsense.

Arthur Lewin,