Part I: Pernetti Expounds on Hill Decision

Tim Pernetti will celebrate his first anniversary as Rutgers' athletic director April 1, and the former Scarlet Knights tight end sat down for an interview with ScarletReport.com. Many topics were covered, from fundraising to renovations to a stroll down memory lane. In the first part, though, we bring some news as he speaks extensively about the decision to retain hoops coach Fred Hill.

PISCATAWAY – Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti never said his decision to retain men's basketball coach Fred Hill was simple, but in speaking about it publicly for the first time Thursday, it definitely was well thought out.

Cat calls began in early January about firing Hill either during or after his fourth season, and the issue wasn't resolved until Pernetti announced March 17 there would be no coaching change.

"I spent a lot of time thinking about it,'' Pernetti said. "I spent a lot of time evaluating the program. It was an important decision, it was a difficult decision. I think any of those decisions really are, but what I will tell you is the hardest part of the whole thing was remaining objective from when the speculation started Jan. 1, through the end of it. That was a pretty long period of time that was swirling.

"I'm sure it was for him to deal with, and certainly it wasn't easy for me, but I tried to do my evaluation objectively. I also tried to do my evaluation, and completed it this way, looking at every element of the program.''

Hill is 44-77, including 13-57 in the Big East, at Rutgers. But he is also coming off his best season, one in which the Scarlet Knights finished 15-17, including 5-13 in the Big East, and challenged for an NIT bid.

He was also owed $1.56 million in a buyout if he were let go.

"Are wins and losses important? Of course they are,'' Pernetti said. "Was the financial piece of it factored in? Yes. But everything else was, too. The kids we have, how we're recruiting, how the program is being run. There's nothing I didn't look at.''

Pernetti said he didn't make a decision on Hill's status until the face-to-face meeting, which took place the morning the announcement was made.

"I was not going to have my mind made up when I walked in the door,'' Pernetti said. "There were specific areas that I wanted to make known that I was concerned about, and there were other things that coach was concerned about.

"But as we talked about what we needed to do, I thought it was a good meeting. And I also think there are very clear-cut expectations going forward about what we need to do.''

When asked, Pernetti opted to keep those expectations between himself and Hill.

On Feb. 14, Hill told ScarletReport.com next season's goal was to finish .500 in the Big East, which would translate into 19 or 20 regular season wins and have Rutgers "knocking on the door to the NCAA Tournament.''

"There have been public statements from coach about what he expects to do next year, and the players and what they expect,'' Pernetti said. "All that stuff is great. I think it's important to have expectations, which is why we agreed what we need to do on a going forward basis.''

The Scarlet Knights return all but one player – Big East defensive player of the year Hamady Ndiaye – and bring in a pair of recruits who should fill holes. Austin Carroll of Brewster Academy (Wolfesboro, N.H.) is a pure shooting guard, and Gilvydas Biruta of St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) is a skilled forward who can shoot and pass.

The potential hole is at center, where Rutgers is trying to land two of them in the spring signing period.

"People's assumption is ‘this is what you're going to have to do next year.' ‘'Pernetti said. "Expectations are expectations, and they are about going forward, and they're not necessarily about one season vs. the next.''


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