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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Hoops Player Sues Rutgers for Coach’s Abuse

NEWARK (CN) - A Rutgers basketball player sued the school and its top administrators for the abuse he suffered from its fired head coach Michael Rice.

Derrick Randall sued Rutgers, its president Robert Barchi, Rice and four other Rutgers employees in Federal Court.

Rice was fired on April 3 after ESPN broadcast videos of the coach manhandling his players, kicking and shoving them, throwing basketballs at their heads and calling them "fucking faggots," "fucking bitches" and other names.

Barchi said he had not seen the video until April 2, though he had known of it since the previous December.

Assistant coach James Martelli resigned on April 3. He is a defendant.

Rutgers athletics director Timothy Pernetti resigned on April 4. He is a defendant.

Also sued are Rutgers CFO Janine Purcaro, and its Chairman of the Board Mark Hershhorn.

Randall left Rutgers after the scandal. He says the abuse caused him to lose "all confidence in himself and in his athletic abilities, which impacted his ability to perform both on and off the court."

Randall claims Rice assaulted and battered him and that the other defendants "knew of this abusive conduct, yet stood by and allowed it to continue."

"The outrageous, intimidating and abusive conduct to which Derrick was subjected included Coach Rice hurling basketballs at his head and legs and hitting, grabbing, striking and shoving him," the complaint states.

"Coach Rice verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused Derrick through violent screaming, cursing and other humiliation tactics, including the use of homophobic slurs and other shockingly derogatory and discriminatory name calling.

"A photograph of Coach Rice grabbing Derrick by the neck and face on the bench during a game, with Derrick looking completely lost and helpless, speaks volumes, as does the video of such abusive behavior."

The video made national news, and was followed by public apologies from Barchi, Pernetti, Martelli and Rice.

Gov. Chris Christie described Rice as an "animal," and former Georgetown Coach John Thompson said Rice's behavior constituted "child abuse," according to comments cited in the lawsuit.

Randall, who has learning disabilities, seeks damages and punitive damages for assault and battery, negligence, gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, interference with prospective economic advantage, discrimination, and violations of his civil rights and of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

All the defendants knew something was up as early as December 2012, when Pernetti announced that Rice would be suspended for three games and fined $50,000. The extent of the abuses was not revealed then, however. But an internal college report on Rice, cited in the lawsuit, states that on Nov. 26, 2012: "Mr. Pernetti and Ms. Purcaro met with Coach Rice. They showed the DVD clips to Coach Rice and AD Pernetti expressed dismay as to certain clips that appeared to show

Coach Rice insulting, demeaning and, in some cases, coming into overly aggressive physical contact with Rutgers men's basketball players. This conduct included referring to players as 'pussies,' 'idiots,' 'fags,' 'faggots,' and 'bitch.' These words were often preceded by the word 'fucking.'"

Randall adds, in the 31-page lawsuit: "Coach Rice and Pernetti received severance packages including at least $475,000 and $1,200,000, respectively; Rutgers moved to the Big Ten Conference; and Derrick and other players were left to live with the damage caused by two traumatic seasons fending for themselves against Coach Rice's abuse."

He is represented by Daniel Kokhba, with Kantor, Davidoff, Mandelker, Twomey & Gallanty, of New York City.

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