Mike Rice Whistleblower Reportedly Being Investigated by FBI for Extortion

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06:  Head coach Mike Rice of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights coaches from the sideline against the Villanova Wildcats during their first round game of the 2012 BIG EAST Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Eric Murdock, who served as the whistleblower in the ongoing abuse scandal involving former Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice, is being investigated by the FBI for possible extortion of the university, reports Steve Eder of the New York Times.

In December, a lawyer representing the former assistant, Eric Murdock, a retired N.B.A. 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.

Murdock was an assistant under Rice at Rutgers. His legal representation sent a letter to the university in December demanding nearly $1 million, which was not provided. He proceeded to release footage of Rice's behavior at practice, according to the report.

The video shows Rice, who was terminated last Wednesday, verbally abusing and throwing basketballs at players. He was previously suspended three games for his actions but was fired one day after the video was aired on ESPN's Outside the Lines

Now the FBI is checking into whether the letter Murdock sent to Rutgers requesting money, eventually leading to the video going public, would qualify as extortion. In the New York Times report, Eder states the investigation is in its early stages.

Murdock recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university, as reported by Christian Red and Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News. In it, the former assistant alleges he was let go for raising issue with Rice's actions.

He said, "Efforts to get Rutgers to address their problems were ignored for months. Instead, I was removed from my position. That is wrong and why I filed a lawsuit."

Four Rutgers officials have resigned or were removed from their positions with the school due to the situation, according to Eder's report. An unnamed university official told the Times that FBI special agent James Tareco has been on campus recently.

The FBI, Rutgers and Murdock's representation all refused to comment on the reported investigation.