The Mike Rice controversy officially transcended sports when it led to the “resigning” of Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti — a former tight end on the school’s football team — so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that the backlash to his dismissal isn’t just among basketball fans and alum. Recently coming forward in support of Pernetti is perhaps Rutgers’ most inspirational sports figure in the program’s history, Eric LeGrand.
LeGrand, a Rutgers football alum, became a paraplegic after being injured on a kickoff return in 2010, greasing the slopes to the increased protection of football players at all levels.
“Heading up to RU in support of Tim Pernetti to talk to some media” LeGrand tweeted. “#KeepTimPernetti the things this man has done for me is indescribable.”
LeGrand also voiced his support for the embattled AD on Facebook.
“When you’re in a situation like I have been for the past 2 1/2 years, you truly see the character of people,” LeGrand said. “Tim Pernetti has shown me and RU how great of a person he really is, and how much he really cares. He’s a stand up guy that only wants to better the university.”
For those who have been living under a rock, Rice was fired as the result of tapes surfacing to the public that show the Rutgers men’s basketball coach chucking basketballs at his players faces, hurling slurs during practice and other considerably offensive methods of coaching young men. Pernetti was essentially forced to resign because he didn’t fire Rice upon learning of his misdeeds.
After guiding Rutgers out of the air crash that was the Big East and into the cash cow Big Ten, Pernetti is now looking for work after the university decided his mishandling of this scandal deserved the axe.