Rutgers University director of intercollegiate athletics Tim Pernetti spoke for nearly eight minutes on a conference call Thursday afternoon about men's basketball coach Mike Rice's school-imposed three-game suspension and $50,000 fine. But Pernetti did not reveal many details as to what actually led to the fine.
Pernetti said it was a pattern of behavior in practices that were not up to the "Rutgers standard." But beyond saying it involved "inappropriate behavior and language," Pernetti refused to elaborate.
Below is a transcript of the call:
Q: What can you share about the situation and what led to this?
A: It’s a difficult situation, certainly, Brian. I was made aware of some things within the last couple of weeks. We commenced a pretty thorough and very lengthy and fair investigation and this was the result of that investigation. There was obviously some things that were not to the Rutgers standard that we evaluated and decided upon. But at the same time the suspension does not involve any NCAA violations.
Q: Along those lines, can you share whether this was an isolated incident or is it a culmination of things?
A: It’s a pattern, I think I would say. But certainly something that we were able to, once we were made aware of it, deal with it in a very proactive manner.
Q: When did the incident take place? Was it at a game? Was it after a game? At practice? Somewhere else?
Q: Can you share what the incident was?
A: As I said in my statement, Brendan, it involved some inappropriate behavior and language, but it’s a personnel matter, and that’s really all I’m going to say at this point.
Q: Did this involve Rice and his players, or did it involve personnel outside the team?
A: Yeah, that’s correct, Jerry.
Q: With this punishment is there anything happening other than sitting out for the games and the fine? Will he still be able to do everything at practices and everything like that?
A: No. Mike will not be permitted to do anything. He’ll be removed from the program. He won’t be able to be active in his role as head basketball coach either inside or outside the university. So this suspension for this period of time and these games is a complete removal from the program.
Q: Does that include recruiting?
Q: What was Mike’s reaction? How did he respond to this when you told him this, what you had decided?
A: It was, you know, for Mike this is a difficult situation. I think for all of us it’s a difficult situation. And at the same time Mike understands and signed up for what the Rutgers standard is, which is all about accountability. And (he) understands that as he holds his players accountable, I hold him accountable.
Q: Is there any chance you might have fired him over this infraction?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Are you committed to him long-term as your basketball coach, and does this change your mind as far as the direction of the program?
A: I am, Steve, committed to Mike. And I think that while this is a difficult situation and while it’s certainly negative, there’s a lot of positives going on in the program and a lot of improvements that are difficult for the everyday fan that only sees the product on the floor to understand and appreciate. Whether it’s the team and Mike’s involvement in charity or the graduation rates, the 3.0 GPA, there’s a lot of good things going on in this program. This certainly is something that’s isolated and appears to be more difficult and negative to deal with, but there’s a lot of good things that we see every day going on in the program that Mike has had a direct effect on.
Q: Are you concerned, it’s obviously a tenuous thing that he’s trying to build here, are you concerned that this perception will set that back?
A: I’m not, Steve, you know, I think we have a great group of kids in this program. We have a really talented group of coaches in the program, and I think it’s a young, energetic program that’s got a lot of greatness in the room. It just needs to be developed. So I’m not concerned about that. I think there’s a lot of good things going on. Having spoken to players, they’re committed to all the things that we count on them to do every single day.
Q: You said this had sort of been somewhat of … a pattern. Had Mike been warned about this type of behavior before by you?
A: Mike and I throughout his tenure here have discussed on occasion certain instances, whether it have been the ejection at Louisville last year or other things I witnessed, but that dialogue has been productive all along the way every time we’ve had to deal with it.
Q: You knew he was a fiery guy and a guy who had a reputation for being this way when you hired him. Is it just above and beyond what your expectations were? What about this behavior surprised you from what you knew you were getting when he came in?
A: I knew exactly what I was getting, and I still know what I got. Mike coaches with an edge, and that’s certainly what we were looking for. We were looking for high energy. We were looking for that edge. We think that that personality is ideal for our program here in New Jersey and everything we were expecting to build. At the same time I think, as I said before, there’s a Rutgers standard and when everybody that participates in our program at any level, whether a coach or a student-athlete or anyone else, I think (it’s) very clear what the Rutgers standard is. And if something falls outside that standard, (they’re) accountable.
Q: You said this is not related to any NCAA violation. Was there a certain need or reason to put that in there?
A: We just wanted to make clear that there were no NCAA violations that were part of this discussion.
Q: Why three games? Why not, like, one or two games? What’s the difference? What’s the number signify?
A: Jerry, I don’t know. You guys can speculate on that however you want. Based on my findings and the investigation, we felt that three games was the appropriate suspension, coupled with the $50,000 fine.