Whistleblower sues Rutgers in abusive coach case

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Eric Murdock (ESPN Video still via YouTube)

Eric Murdock (ESPN Video still via YouTube)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former Rutgers University employee who made public the video that led to the basketball coach’s dismissal and athletic director’s resignation has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university.

Eric Murdock filed the lawsuit Friday in state court, claiming the university violated the state’s employee protection act and his contract.

Murdock said he wrote to the university in July about coach Mike Rice’s “unlawful conduct,” and gave the university video in November showing Rice pushing players, throwing basketballs at them and berating them with invectives, including gay slurs.

“Despite having been in possession of such video footage, the university and its representatives inexplicably chose to ignore Defendant Rice’s unlawful conduct,” the lawsuit said.

The public airing of the videos this week led to Rice’s firing and the resignation of athletic director Tim Pernetti.

The school, Rice, Pernetti, university President Robert L. Barchi and former President Richard L. McCormick were all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Rutgers officials declined to comment about the lawsuit. When asked about it at a news conference Friday, Barchi said, “It is an ongoing legal situation, and it is something that I simply cannot comment on.”

Murdock, who played in the NBA for nine seasons, was the director of player of development for the program. His contract wasn’t renewed in July.

He said he was let go after a dispute with Rice about skipping the coach’s youth basketball camp and, ultimately, because he complained to university officials about Rice’s mistreatment of players.

Murdock claims the school violated state anti-bullying law and a Rutgers policy put in place after the September 2010 suicide of student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after learning that his roommate had used a webcam to watch him kiss another man.

“Despite their obligations under New Jersey law and the university’s own policy, neither the presidents of the university, the athletic director nor any other university representatives took any steps to assure that the rights of the student-athlete members of the men’s basketball program were protected from assault (both physical and verbal), battery, harassment, intimidation, bullying, defamation and other unlawful conduct,” the lawsuit states.

Murdock’s lawsuit accuses the university of six counts of wrongdoing, including breach of contract and a hostile work environment. The lawsuit did not specify damages.

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