Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 4/5/13

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 16: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Eric LeGrand and Ray Rice were among the notable former Rutgers athletes who expressed their support of athletic director Tim Pernetti (pictured), who resigned Friday amid the scandal over fired basketball coach Mike Rice. Rice was suspended three games by the school in December after school officials saw video of him physically and verbally abusing his players in practice. Once that video was shown by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” this week, many were outraged over the coach’s behavior. There were immediate calls for Rice to be fired, and questions about why Pernetti continued to employ him. Pernetti resigned, saying he wished he had moved to fire the coach in December. He said in his statement that the school was hesitant to fire the coach before reviewing the whole legal process. “I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the events which led to today,” Pernetti said in his letter. “As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice’s behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel. Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved.” That may not have been entirely accurate, because some say Pernetti could have reasonably fired Rice on account of misconduct. Former Rutgers football players Ray Rice and Eric LeGrand were supportive of Pernetti during the controversy. Rice, a running back for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, called Pernetti a “great man” and lauded him for getting Rutgers in the Big Ten. Big 10 doesn’t happen without Mr. Pernetti He has done a GREAT job for RU, our future is bright with him leading us. #greatman — Ray Rice (@RayRice27) April 5, 2013 LeGrand, a former RU offensive lineman who was paralyzed in an October 2010 game, was even more supportive of Pernetti: When you’re in a situation like I have been for the past 2 1/2 years, you truly see the character of people. Tim Pernetti has shown me and — Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) April 5, 2013 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. #B1G — Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) April 5, 2013 Heading up to RU in support of Tim Pernetti to talk to some media. #KeepTimPernetti the things this man has done for me is indescribable — Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) April 5, 2013 I wouldn’t be where I am today with such a bright future if it wasn’t for Tim Pernetti — Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) April 5, 2013 Definitely a sad day for Rutgers, but Tim Pernetti will have my back for ever for what he did for me and for Rutgers University — Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) April 5, 2013 It’s understandable why Pernetti has his supporters, and it does seem like he has done a lot of good for the school. But not recognizing immediately that what Rice was doing was grounds for firing was a huge mistake. I’ll bet some school overlooks that and gives him a job once this simmers. Image: YouTube/ESPN

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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