Rutgers Assistant Basketball Coach Resigns Amid Player Abuse Video Scandal

Friday, Apr 5, 2013  |  Updated 5:30 AM PDT
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Rutgers assistant basketball coach Jim Martelli (inset bottom) has resigned amid the player abuse video scandal. Coach Mike Rice resigned Wednesday.

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The men's basketball assistant coach at Rutgers University resigned one day after head coach Mike Rice was fired over of a video that shows him hitting, shoving and berating his players with anti-gay slurs. 

Rice was fired on Wednesday, and the assistant coach, Jimmy Martelli, was out on Thursday, NBC 4 New York confirmed.

Reporters were shown a video at Rutgers this week in which Martelli was also seen shoving a player during practice.

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"I am sickened that as an assistant coach, I contributed in any way to an unacceptable culture. Wednesday, I resigned from Rutgers and I hope that coaches on all levels will learn something important from these events," Martelli said in a statement released by a law firm. "For my actions, I am deeply sorry and I apologize to the players from the bottom of my heart."

Martelli, who also coached with Rice at Robert Morris, is the son of St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli. He was hired by Rutgers in May 2010.

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was asked on Tuesday whether Martelli was seen shoving players on the videotape.

"Jimmy was spoken to about the manner. We dealt with that," Pernetti told reporters after screening the Rice videotape for them. "Certainly the tape focused on Mike but it brought some other things to light that we dealt with at the same time that we dealt with Mike."

Meanwhile several Rutgers faculty members are demanding the resignation of school President Robert Barchi, citing a slow response to the video scandal. 

The professors' two-page letter on Wednesday to the Rutgers Board of Governors and Board of Trustees said Barchi only fired Rice "after media attention forced him to do so."

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The letter said Barchi showed a pattern of "insensitivity and arrogance" toward diversity — an important issue at the state's flagship public university since the 2010 death of Tyler Clementi, a student who killed himself after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him kissing another man in his dorm.

"Although President Barchi is now suggesting otherwise, he has known about Coach Rice's homophobic, misogynist, and abusive behavior for several months now," the faculty wrote. "Not only did he not fire Coach Rice, he in essence covered up the coach's actions by failing to tell faculty and students about them."

In fact, the faculty wrote, Barchi renewed Rice's contract around the same time the school learned of the video.

Rice was ousted Wednesday, soon after the public got its first look at excerpts of video showing his practice-time tirades, including him throwing basketballs at players. The firing marked a quick and embarrassing reversal for the school administration.

Barchi, who took office in September, said he had been told about Rice's tirades months ago and agreed to discipline the coach, including fines and withheld salary totaling $75,000.

Barchi said that seeing the video this week helped him conclude that the men's basketball coach should be fired, a decision he said he made along with the athletic director.

"I have now reached the conclusion that coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability," he said.

The athletic department said the coach received $622,500 last year and that his contract called for a $750,000 salary in 2013. Spokesman Jason Baum said a settlement with the ex-coach, who had two years left on his contract, is being discussed.

Much of the ire, on campus and beyond, was directed at Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who admitted Tuesday he had made a wrong decision to "attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice."

Speaking with reporters outside his home in Little Silver, Rice apologized.

"It's troubling, but at some time maybe I'll try to explain it," he said. "But right now there's no explanation for what's on those films. There is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I want to tell everybody who's believed in me that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I've caused."

--Bruce Beck contributed to this story

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