NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Rutgers' coaching scandal spiraled deeper Friday, bringing down the popular athletic director and a school vice president while donors threatened to cut off contributions to New Jersey's largest public university.
Tim Pernetti resigned as AD for not immediately firing coach Mike Rice, who was caught on video hitting, kicking and taunting players with gay slurs at practice.
ESPN aired the video Tuesday, prompting outrage nationwide and on campus, where the coach's conduct was especially sensitive because in 2010 a student there committed suicide after his roommate used a webcam to record him kissing a man.
Pernetti fired Rice on Wednesday, but the AD came under criticism for only suspending and fining the coach after the video was brought to his attention four months ago.
Pernetti implied Friday that he was being made a scapegoat. He said his initial inclination when he saw the videos in the fall was to fire Rice, but "Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel."
Rutgers president Robert Barchi came under harsh questioning at a news conference Friday over what he knew about the video months ago, but he got a nod of support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the school's board or governors.
Barchi, who took office in September 2012, said he first saw the video only this week but was aware it existed in late November.
"This was a failure of process. I regret that I did not ask to see this video when Tim first told me of its existence," Barchi said. "I want to apologize to the entire Rutgers community for the negative impact that this situation has had on Rutgers."
Pernetti, 42, is a Rutgers graduate who played tight end for the Scarlet Knights from 1989-93.
Pernetti enjoys some popularity among alumni and donors, especially after he helped the school move to the Big Ten Conference, which means millions in additional revenue. The move becomes official in 2014; the Scarlet Knights will play their last season in the Big East in 2013-14.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told the Chicago Tribune that the situation "will have no impact on Rutgers' transition to, or membership in, the Big Ten Conference."
Some of Rutgers' leading donors threatened to cut their contributions.
Tom Mendiburu, whose High Point Solutions paid $6 million for the naming rights to the football stadium, tweeted that he made the deal because of Pernetti. The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Daniel Wheeler, a founding member of the Society of Queens College, where membership requires a minimum of $1 million donated over a lifetime, was upset Rutgers ignored prominent donors' pleas to keep Pernetti.
The New York Times reported that investment firm owner David H. Bugen said he is halting plans for a new gift to the university, which he said would have been his largest ever, because he was so upset at how Pernetti had been treated.
Also resigning was John B. Wolf, Rutgers' interim senior vice president and general counsel, who is believed to have recommended against firing Rice in December over the video. On Thursday, assistant coach Jimmy Martelli resigned for his role in the matter, he said.