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FBI Possibly Investigating Extortion In Firing Of Rutgers Coach

Rutgers University Seal

Rutgers University Seal

The FBI has, it appears, opened an investigation into whether or not former Rutgers basketball employee Eric Murdock attempted to extort the university with videos showing fired coach Mike Rice abusing players. Murdock is, apparently, the one who provided the videos to university officials and ESPN.

Murdock was the basketball program’s player development director.

Neither the FBI, Murdock nor Rutgers are confirming or discussing the possible investigation. Supposedly, Murdock’s lawyer, in a letter from him to Rutgers’ lawyer, demanded $950,000 to settle issues relating to Murdock’s termination from the college by 4 January. At which point, Murdock was to file a lawsuit against the University. No settlement was reached, but Murdock still contends that he was fired for being a whistleblower.

Despite the fact that there were numerous complaints against Mike Rice, it was not until the videos went public at ESPN that Rice was fired and the athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned. Last week, Rutgers President Robert Barchi stated clearly that neither the firing nor the resignation would have occurred without Murdock providing the video to ESPN.

According to Murdock, Rice fired him after he skipped a session of summer basketball camp; however, he contents that he was fired because of he spoke out against Rice’s conduct. Murdock left even though Rutgers later said he had not actually been fired. Murdock used open public records requests in order to obtain hundreds of hours of video made of the practice sessions and then edited down to half an hour.

The university claims that many of the incidents in the video were taken out of context in a report that they completed on Rice back in December, and that, while some of the incidents were bad, they claim that he did not violate any policies with his behavior. Rice was suspended without pay for three games. It was only after Barchi first saw the videos that he claims that he knew Rice could not continue as coach.

Unfortunately for Rugters, this is likely to undermine student confidence in the school’s administration.

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