Rutgers Fires Basketball Coach After Video Emerges Showing Him Roughing Players
Rutgers fired basketball Mike Rice on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after an explosive video showed him, on numerous occasions, slurring, threatening and hurling basketballs at unsuspecting players during practices.
In a video ESPN obtained and featured in Don Van Natta Jr.'s report, Van Natta reported that "Rice calls Rutgers players 'f----ts,' 'm-----f-----s,' "p-----s,' 'sissy b-----s,' and 'c---s,' among other epithets" in the footage.
Those associated with the basketball program told Van Natta that Rice had anger issues and it made him feel better to physically and verbally abuse players, as if doing so was almost therapeutic for him. They said Rice was able to sleep better at night even though his players were being tormented. At least three players transferred from Rutgers presumably because of Rice's conduct.
More disturbingly, though, Rice, in addition to yelling obscenities, physically yanked players around the court and viciously threw basketballs at the back of their knees and chests.
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti, who had suspended Rice for three games after initially seeing the video last November, fired him after ESPN obtained the video. Many are calling for Pernetti to be fired for initially mishandling the situation.
"I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice," Pernetti said. "Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December, and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community."
NBA basketball players like LeBron James expressed their outrage on Monday, saying he would have whooped on Rice afterwards had Rice treated his kids that way.
"If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that he would have some real explaining to do and I'm still gone whoop on him afterwards!" James tweeted. "C'mon
Rice said he was "deeply sorry for the pain and the hardship that I've caused."
"There will never be a time when I use any of that as an excuse," Rice said in an interview outside of his house. "I've let so many people down. My players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans. My family, who's sitting in their house just huddled around because of the fact that their father was an embarrassment to them.
According to ESPN, he said, "it's troubling, but I will at some time, maybe I'll try to explain it, but right now, there's no explanation for what's on those films."
"Because there is no excuse for it. I was wrong," he said. "I want to tell everybody who's believed in me that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I've caused."