Eric Murdock, the Rutgers University employee who leaked video of coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing his players, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university on Friday.
In the complaint, filed a New Jersey state court, Murdock alleges he told the school’s athletic director Tim Pernetti about Rice’s abusive behavior “on several occasions.”
Instead of taking action against Rice, the complaint says, Murdock was fired.
“That is wrong and that is why I filed my lawsuit,” Murdock said during a news conference.
“Having played organized basketball for his entire life, including at the highest level in the National Basketball Association, Mr. Murdock never experienced a coach whose behavior and treatment of his players and others crossed the line into aforementioned assaultive, abusive and other unlawful conduct,” the lawsuit states. “Although many instances of Defendant Rice’s abuse and misconduct were public these incidents were ignored by the University and its officials.”
CBS News New York reports the lawsuit is a “classic whistleblower claim.” The network reports:
“Murdock briefly addressed his role in the downfall of his former boss, saying he’s clearly happy Rice is out the door.
“‘Mike Rice’s removal was long overdue, the first step in stopping the mistreatment of Rutgers student-athletes,’ Murdock said.
“Murdock spent a decade in the NBA, including a season with the then-New Jersey Nets, before being hired at Rutgers as director of basketball player development in 2010.”
The Star-Ledger ran a glowing profile of Murdock, earlier this week. Several of the people whom the paper talked to described him as a hard worker with humility and character.
ESPN, which first aired the video, reports today that Murdock sought a settlement with the university late last year. They quote a letter Murdock’s attorneys sent the school on Dec. 27:
“While we believe that the recent suspension and fine of Mr. Rice and his enrollment in anger management and future monitoring of his conduct (as we suggested) was a small step in the right direction, it is unfathomable to think that Mr. Rice’s employment with the University continues while Mr. Murdock remains unemployed for simply having done the right thing. …
“We are willing to give your clients until the close of business on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, to address final resolution of this matter. Otherwise, we have already prepared a Complaint and will file suit without further notice. To resolve claims for damages inclusive of attorney fees and costs, Mr. Murdock is willing to accept $950,000.00.”
As Mark reported earlier today, Rutgers’ athletic director Pernetti submitted his resignation this morning.
School President Robert Barchi was pressed about whether he would resign as well.