If you had an extortion investigation in your "what twists the Rutgers basketball scandal will take next" pool, well, collect your winnings. Also, buy a lottery ticket because you may be telepathic. Because the F.B.I. is investigating Eric Murdock, the whistleblowing former assistant coach, for extortion.
University officials let it slip to The New York Times' Steve Eder that Federal Bureau of Investigation officers recently visited the campus and met with athletic director Tim Pernetti sometime before Pernetti was fired on Friday. They're trying to determine whether or not Murdock, the former director of player development, tried to extort the school before becoming the man who blew the lid off this whole scandal. Murdock leaked the video of now-former basketball coach Mike Rice physically assaulting and yelling at his players over the course of the first three years of his time as head coach to ESPN's Outside the Lines.
Murdock originally claimed to show Pernetti the video in June 2012, but that turend out to be false. He did raise the issue of Rice's behavior with Pernetti in June. But the athletic director didn't see the video of Rice until November and Murdock was the one who showed Pernetti the footage. Murdock and Rutgers parted ways shortly after. He claims it was over the whistle blowing.
After witnessing Rice's actions firsthand via Murdock's video, the school commissioned an independent investigation led by New Jersey lawyer John P. Lacey as to how to proceed with Rice. The report didn't make any recommendations as to whether or not the school should fire the head coach, which the school finally did this week, but it did conclude that Rice violated school policy and his contract. That investigation also looked at whether or not Murdock's interpretation that he was fired for being a whistleblower was true. The investigation sided with Pernetti and Rutgers: Murdock's contract wasn't renewed for reasons beyond his whistle blowing.
How does leaking a video and getting your old boss fired amount to extortion, you ask? Well, ESPN'S Don Van Natta Jr. reported Friday that Murdock wrote a letter to the school demanding $950,000 to settle his wrongful termination claims a month after he first showed Pernetti the video. Rutgers politely declined. Murdock filed a lawsuit against the school on Friday. So, uh.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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