Ex-Rutgers employee who pressed for Rice action sues

Eric Murdock lost his job as director of player development in July. On Friday, he filed a lawsuit.
Eric Murdock lost his job as director of player development in July. On Friday, he filed a lawsuit. (RICH SCHULTZ / Associated Press)
Posted: April 08, 2013

In November, former Rutgers University employee Eric Murdock provided school officials with a videotape that last week led to the firing of head basketball coach Mike Rice.

The tape, which showed Rice throwing basketballs at players during practice and using antigay slurs, had been available to Rutgers officials all along, according to Murdock: The university gave him the footage after he filed a public-records request.

On Friday, Murdock sued Rutgers officials in state court, accusing them of ignoring his complaints about Rice - and firing him from his position as director of player development in retaliation.

"This is a classic whistle-blower case," Barry Kozyra, Murdock's attorney, said at a news conference Friday. A video of the conference and a copy of the lawsuit were posted online by the Star-Ledger.

The lawsuit, Kozyra said, raises the question of "why Rutgers University did not uncover what was happening in its basketball practices that went on for an extended period of time."

'False pretense'

The university; Rice; now-resigned athletic director Timothy Pernetti; former president Richard McCormick; and president Robert L. Barchi are named in the case.

In the lawsuit, Murdock contends he complained to Rice and Pernetti about Rice's conduct "on several occasions" between July 2010 and July 2012.

When Murdock was terminated July 2, it was "under the false pretense" that his contract was not being renewed for the 2012-13 year, according to his lawsuit.

The university does not comment on pending litigation, spokesman Greg Trevor said Saturday.

An investigator hired by the university concluded that Murdock "was not 'fired,' nor was his employment terminated by Coach Rice in retaliation for [Murdock's] 'blowing the whistle' on misconduct by Coach Rice." The investigator's report was dated Jan. 21 and released by Rutgers on Friday.

'No apology'

Murdock's lawyer sent Rutgers officials a letter in July contending he was wrongfully terminated for complaining about Rice.

On Nov. 26, Murdock gave school officials the video, prompting the university to retain the investigator.

In December, Rice was suspended for three games.

He was fired Wednesday after an ESPN broadcast of the video showing him throwing basketballs at players and berating them. Assistant coach Jimmy Martelli resigned the same day.

Pernetti resigned Friday, as Barchi said he and Pernetti had "mutually agreed" that the athletic director should resign.

Murdock's lawsuit was also also filed Friday. While Barchi addressed the controversy, Murdock received "no apology, and no thanks," Kozyra said. "Hence we have a lawsuit."

Raj Gadhok, another lawyer for Murdock, said Saturday that attorneys were "not doing any further interviews at this time." Murdock could not be reached.

Contact Maddie Hanna

at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com,

or on Twitter @maddiehanna.

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