The FBI is investigating whether a former Rutgers basketball employee
tried to extort the university before he made videos that showed
ex-coach Mike Rice shoving and kicking players and berating them with
A person familiar with the situation told The
Associated Press on Sunday that investigators are interested in Eric
Murdock, who left his job as the men's basketball program's player
development director last year and later provided the video to
university officials and ESPN.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because
the inquiry has not been announced. The investigation was first reported
by The New York Times.
A spokeswoman for the FBI's Newark office said the
agency would not say whether there is an investigation. Murdock's lawyer
did not return a call to the AP on Sunday. A Rutgers spokesman referred
questions to the FBI.
A December letter from Murdock's lawyer to a lawyer
representing Rutgers requested $950,000 to settle employment issues and
said that if the university did not agree by Jan. 4, Murdock was
prepared to file a lawsuit. The letter was obtained last week by the AP
and other media outlets.
No settlement has been made. The video became
public last week, and Murdock on Friday filed a lawsuit against the
university, contending he was fired because he was a whistleblower
trying to bring to light Rice's behavior.
The video's release last week set off a chain
reaction that led to Rice's firing and the resignations of athletic
director Tim Pernetti, the university's top in-house lawyer and an
assistant basketball coach. Some critics want the university's
president, Robert Barchi, to resign.
At a news conference last week, Barchi said the
firing and resignations likely never would have happened unless Murdock
provided the video to ESPN. Barchi said he did not see the video himself
until after it had been made public.
Murdock, a New Jersey native who played for seven
NBA teams from 1991 to 2000, was on the initial staff Rice assembled
when he became the Rutgers coach in 2010. He left the team last year,
though there are conflicting stories about the circumstances.
Murdock has said Rice fired him after he skipped a
session of Rice's summer basketball camp, but has said he was targeted
because he had spoken with others about Rice's conduct at practice. The
university found in a report that Murdock was not actually fired and
that he could have continued working at the school.
After Murdock left, he spoke with university
officials about his allegations against Rice. He also used an open
public records request to obtain hundreds of hours of videos of
basketball practice. It's not clear who shot the original footage, but
it was edited into the half-hour video later given to the university
that touched off a scandal last week.
The university report on Rice, which was completed
in December but not made public until Friday, criticized the video
provided by Murdock as taken many situations out of context. While the
report found fault with Rice's behavior in several instances, it also
said he did not create a hostile work environment, as Murdock had
The report also said that Murdock had claimed some
violations of NCAA rules - including that he and others in the program
paid players - but he did not provide evidence.
After a review, university officials agreed to
suspend Rice without pay for three games, fine him $50,000, send him to
anger-management counseling and monitor his behavior.
Barchi said when he first saw the video last week he immediately decided Rice could not continue as coach.
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