The Rutgers University Board of Governors today released the results of a review of the events that preceded the dismissal of former head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice.
Conducted by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP, the review offers several recommendations to improve university policies and procedures. The recommendations include the implementation of a university-wide risk assessment program and more formal coordination among human resources officials across the institution. The review also calls for renewed attention to the implementation of reforms proposed back in 2008 by the university-sponsored athletic review committee, which advocated that the university administration more closely oversee the school’s division of intercollegiate athletics.
In 2008, the committee was convened to review controversial issues associated with the operation of the university’s athletics department. The committee was tasked to review allegations of improprieties regarding a contracting process with a sports marketing company, as well as compensation agreements with the head football coach. That report concluded that “the university operated with inadequate internal controls, insufficient inter-departmental and hierarchical communications, an uninformed Board on some specific important issues, and limited Presidential leadership.”
That committee made 16 recommendations that focused on improving oversight over the athletics department from a financial controls perspective, particularly with respect to contracting and compensation. While the university took steps to strengthen the internal audit function in light of the report, Skadden’s review of the circumstances surrounding the termination of Rice found ongoing concerns regarding the insularity and autonomy of the athletics department, as well as insufficient oversight by the school’s president, board of governors and administration.
“We welcome the results of this review and the recommendations that Skadden has made,” said Gerald C. Harvey, chair of the Board of Governors. “This report helps us better understand the issues that emerged in connection with the basketball program. This has been a difficult period. But the review and this report will help us learn from these events and move forward, guided by the lessons it outlines. We will continue to study these recommendations closely and I am committed to working with President Barchi to develop a plan for implementation.”
The Skadden review details records dating back from July of 2012, when former director of player development Eric Murdock claimed that Rice physically, mentally and verbally abused his players and staff. The abuse was caught on video, and its release led to Rice’s termination. The Skadden review was led by former federal judge Stephen C. Robinson and former federal prosecutor Christopher J. Gunther.
Barchi has been under fire since the Rice incident, and some faculty and state officials have called on him to step down. After Rice was fired, new athletic director Julie Hermann was accused of physically and mentally abusing her volleyball players in the late 1990s.