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Originally published Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 7:34 PM

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FBI investigates former Rutgers assistant coach

The FBI is investigating whether the assistant at Rutgers who first voiced concerns about the abusive behavior of his boss, Mike Rice, tried...

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The FBI is investigating whether the assistant at Rutgers who first voiced concerns about the abusive behavior of his boss, Mike Rice, tried to extort the university.

As part of its investigation, an FBI agent recently visited the office of Tim Pernetti, the athletic director, according to two people familiar with the investigation, one of whom is a university official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Pernetti resigned as the Rutgers athletic director on Friday.

In December, a lawyer representing the former assistant, Eric Murdock, a retired NBA player, sent a letter to the university demanding $950,000, according to a copy of the letter. The letter — which was first reported by ESPN on Friday — was sent two weeks after Rice was suspended for three games for the abusive behavior that eventually led to his firing Wednesday.

The university declined to pay the money demanded in the letter, and Murdock eventually publicized video footage that showed Rice kicking his players, throwing basketballs at them and taunting them with homophobic slurs. The footage has sparked a scandal that has led to the resignations or dismissals of at least four Rutgers officials.

Murdock filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Rutgers and several university officials Friday, claiming that he was let go for being a whistle-blower.

The university said it did not renew his contract after the 2012 season because he left Rice's basketball camp early and without permission, among other factors.

Note

• Ball State has hired James Whitford as its new coach. He spent the past four seasons as an assistant at Arizona working under Sean Miller. The 41-year-old coach replaces Billy Taylor, who was fired March 14 after six seasons.

"I left an unbelievable situation," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press a few hours after the announcement. "I believe I had the very best assistant-coaching job in the country, and what I wanted was to compete for league championships at whatever school I went to."

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