Ousted Rutgers Athletic Director Said to Join MLS Team

Former Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti will join Major League Soccer’s New York expansion team as its chief business officer, a person with direct knowledge of the hiring said.

The move will be announced next week, said the person, who requested anonymity because the signing isn’t official.

MLS in May said the New York Yankees would be an investor in the team, New York City Football Club, which will be controlled by Manchester City Football Club of the English Premier League.

Pernetti, who resigned in April in the wake of a scandal involving the men’s basketball coach, didn’t immediately return an e-mail or voice mail left on his mobile phone seeking comment on the new position. Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for NYCFC, declined to comment. Manchester City spokeswoman Vicky Kloss didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on Pernetti.

Tom Mendiburu, co-founder of Sparta, New Jersey-based High Point Solutions Inc., which has its name on the Rutgers football stadium, in a telephone interview said his friend Pernetti “had a few things on the table” and ultimately chose the soccer job.

“He’s got a lot of contacts in the area, in sports and media, and he’ll leverage those and bring a lot of value to the organization,” said Mendiburu. His company, a supplier of online server and router hardware, signed the 10-year naming-rights agreement in 2011.

2015 Start

The league’s 20th team is scheduled to begin play in 2015. The league, team and Yankees are working to find a suitable site for a soccer-specific stadium. Sites in Queens and the Bronx, near Yankee Stadium, are among those being considered.

Pernetti, 42, left his post as athletic director after a telecast of a video showed basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally attacking players at practices while using gay slurs. Pernetti said he had seen parts of the video before deciding to suspend the coach.

Pernetti in his resignation letter said his first instinct was to fire the coach immediately.

“However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel,” Pernetti wrote. “Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal.”

December Suspension

Rice was initially suspended in December, three weeks after Rutgers was invited to join the Big Ten Conference, a move from the Big East Conference that may increase the school’s athletic-department income by millions of dollars. University President Robert Barchi kept his job amid faculty calls for his ouster.

The video aired by ESPN showed Rice grabbing and pushing players, haranguing them with expletive-laden homophobic slurs and hurling basketballs at their heads.

Pernetti, whose annual salary was $452,769 at the time of his resignation, was included in a list of five nominees for athletic director of the year in the 2013 Sports Business Awards, given by SportsBusiness Journal.

MLS reaped a record $100 million expansion fee for the team.

Man City in May played fellow English Premier League team Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, in an exhibition at Yankee Stadium.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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