After two weeks of posturing, contentious discussions and then negotiating, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti can begin his search for a new men’s basketball coach immediately.
Rutgers announced minutes ago coach Fred Hill and the school agreed to a buyout, with the figure believed to be slightly less than $1 million, which includes bonuses he is owed from this season.
"I would like to thank Freddie for his hard work and service to Rutgers," Pernetti said in a statement. "We appreciate his efforts on the behalf of our student-athletes and wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
Hours earlier, during an afternoon meeting with the players, Pernetti informed the players the final details were being worked out and an announcement would be worked out later in the day.
With Hill no longer the coach, Pernetti can begin the next phase of the process, which is hiring Hill’s successor.
Among the candidates on what is surely a defined list given the length of time it took to settle the dispute with Hill are former Rutgers star and recently fired NBA coach Eddie Jordan, former Ohio State and Boston College coach Jim O’Brien and former St. John’s coach and current ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, according to sources.
Assistant Darren Savino will serve as the interim coach.
Other possible candidates include Temple coach Fran Dunphy, former Kentucky and Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie and Richmond coach Chris Mooney, who played at Princeton.
While the search for a new coach could have taken place in back channels, independent of the school, the process may now be able to move to the forefront because a settlement was reached.
Hill was owed more than $1.9 million over the remaining three years of his contract, but Rutgers was building a case to fire him with cause, which could have result in a lengthy appeal process, a court case, and the possibility of receiving no money.
Instead, the matter is closed, and both parties can move forward.
Hill leaves Rutgers with slightly less than $1 million, and with a 44-77 record in four seasons. The decision comes two days after his father and Rutgers baseball coach, Fred Hill, became the 45th member of the 1,000-win club.
The stunning turn in events came after Hill Jr. was involved in an on-field argument with a member of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff after an April 1 baseball game. Two weeks prior, Pernetti made the decision to bring Hill back for a fifth season.
But following the baseball field incident and an investigation, Rutgers compiled a list of alleged violations to prove Hill was in breach of behavioral guidelines set forth in his contract. Shortly after the incident, Pernetti informed Hill he would not coach the Scarlet Knights in 2010-11, according to sources.