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Rutgers Athletic Director Steps Down in Wake of Basketball Scandal

Elsa/Getty Images(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Tim Pernetti, Rutgers University's athletics director, is stepping down from his post, making him the most senior official at the school to leave or be fired since footage surfaced earlier this week of the men's basketball coach verbally and physically abusing players.

The New Jersey school on Wednesday fired men's basketball coach Mike Rice -- and his assistant, Jimmy Martelli, resigned -- 24 hours after video aired on ESPN of Rice's shoving and kicking players while berating them with gay slurs.

Rice apologized, telling ABC News affiliate WABC-TV, "I've let so many people down: my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family."

"There's no explanation for what's on that film. There's no excuse for it. I was wrong. And I want to tell everybody who's believed in me that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I've caused," he said.

Pernetti, 42, was named athletic director in 2009 of the state university and is credited with overseeing the school's acceptance into the prestigious Big Ten conference last year.

After ESPN aired the footage of Rice berating players on Tuesday, Pernetti came forward to say he had known about the allegations and apologized for not taking action earlier.

In a statement released Wednesday after Rice's dismissal, Pernetti said he became aware of the accusations against Rice in December and chose not to fire the coach at the time but instead decided "rehabilitation" was the best course of action.

"I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice. Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community," Pernetti said.

Despite being fired, Rice is still entitled to a $100,000 bonus for completing the season, officials said.

In the wake of the scandal, 13 Rutgers faculty members have also called on the university president, Robert Barchi, to step down or be fired.

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