Rutgers Fires Coach Mike Rice After Practice Video Prompts Outcry
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Rutgers has fired Mike Rice after a video showing the basketball coach verbally and physically abusing his players caused a public outcry.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” aired footage of Rice shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and yelling gay slurs at them during practice.
In the clips, Rice was seen heaving a basketball at a player’s head and kicking another.
Rice made no attempt Wednesday to excuse or explain the videotaped behavior that led to his downfall.
“I’ve let so many people down,” Rice told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello. “My players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans … my family, sitting in the house, just huddled around because of the fact their father is an embarrassment to them.
“It’s troubling, but at some time maybe I’ll try to explain it. But right now there’s no explanation for what’s on those films. There is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I want to tell everybody who’s believed in me that I’m deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I’ve caused.”
The Rutgers athletic department tweeted the termination on Wednesday.
“Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice,” the school said.
The video wasn’t a surprise to Scarlet Knights athletic director Tim Pernetti, who suspended Rice for three games and fined him approximately $75,000 in December after watching the tape. Upon returning to the program following his suspension, the university had the 44-year-old Rice take part in sensitivity training.
“In the end I am not going to look back and say shoulda, woulda,” Pernetti told WFAN radio on Tuesday. “All I can do is figure out going forward the decisions I can make to fix the problem for Rutgers.”
Pernetti said Rutgers president Robert Barchi agreed with the punishment in 2012.
“I spent more time with that option on whether we should fire Mike or not than any other option,” Pernetti told WFAN.
On Wednesday, Barchi said Rice’s “abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university’s core values.”
“I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior,” Barchi said in a statement. “I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability. He cannot continue to coach at Rutgers University.”
Current players refused to weigh in as they left their dorm rooms on campus, saying, “no comment.”
But in his personal blog, “Kuhn’s Corner,” former Rutgers basketball player Mike Kuhn gave readers insight to the tension that existed on the Scarlet Knights’ team for the 2011-12 season, CBS 2’s Otis Livingston reported.
“First, as many of you know, Coach Rice gets mad, really mad. As players, we pray that he slept well the night before and there was minimal traffic in the morning so we don’t have to run suicides for every turnover committed in practice,” Kuhn wrote.
Kuhn went on to allude to a specific game.
“After a miserable first half and trailing by three to Sacred Heart, we knew we were in for a ‘special’ halftime speech. As he came in and began his normal tirade that consists of calling us cowards and weak-minded individuals, he unintentionally smacked the Gatorade cups straight into our trainer Eric Bridenbaugh’s face,” Kuhn wrote.
Rice addressed reporters after his dismissal from his home in Little Silver, N.J.
“As I stated three months ago after I watched the video how deeply regrettable those actions (were). I also stated I was going to try to work on changing. I think I’ve accomplished a lot of that,” he said. “I can’t say anything right now except I’m sorry and there will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse or there will be any excuse.”
Eric Murdock, the former director of player development at Rutgers who put together the video, told ESPN the coach’s actions led some players to transfer.