EAST HANOVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Front and center in the video controversy that has engulfed Rutgers University is Eric Murdock, a NBA player who blew the whistle on coach Mike Rice’s abusive behavior.
On Friday, Murdock filed a lawsuit claiming Rutgers fired him because he complained, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Murdock spoke briefly and refused to take any questions.
WEB EXTRA: READ THE MURDOCK COMPLAINT (PDF)
His lawsuit is a classic whistleblower claim. He said he brought misconduct to the university’s attention, and Rutgers retaliated by firing him.
Murdock briefly addressed his role in the downfall of his former boss, saying he’s clearly happy Rice is out the door.
“Mike Rice’s removal was long overdue, the first step in stopping the mistreatment of Rutgers student-athletes,” Murdock said.
Murdock spent a decade in the NBA, including a season with the then-New Jersey Nets, before being hired at Rutgers as director of basketball player development in 2010.
He claims he quickly grew concerned about abusive actions and language used by Rice.
“When Rutgers finds out about something wrong involving their students they should act immediately. Efforts to get Rutgers to address their problems were ignored for months,” Murdock said.
In a lawsuit Murdock claims he notified Rutgers in early 2012 about Rice’s behavior, but “neither the university nor its representatives conducted any investigation into Murdock’s complaints.”
Instead, according to the suit, the school chose to simply deny any wrongdoing.
Murdock was fired last summer and claims his “termination was the direct result of his complaints and report of Coach Rice’s unlawful conduct.”
“That is wrong and that is why I filed my lawsuit,” Murdock said.
Before Murdock went public this week on ESPN his attorney asked Rutgers to settle the case for close to $1 million, leading some to accuse him of extortion.
“That’s clearly not true — Mr. Murdock acted without any motivation for money when he brought this to the attention of Rutgers in June of 2012. It’s Rutgers who didn’t act,” attorney Barry Kozyra said.
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