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Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice and the evolution of 'tough love' (+video)

The reaction to video footage of the tirades by Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice suggests that the public is no longer willing to give coaches broad leeway when they turn to abusive tactics.

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With 10 chapters around the country, the group gives about 1,500 workshops a year to coaches, parents, students, and youth sports leaders, and demand is growing, Thompson says.

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He also sees a growing recognition of for college coaches who bring home wins through positive coaching. Coaches such as Brad Stevens at Butler and Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth University are “in big demand,” he says, because they build up and get the most out of their players rather than just relying on superstars.

The culture may be shifting, but it still “allows and excuses situations that put athletics before basic human dignity,” and players should have more protections to prevent future situations like the one at Rutgers, says Ramogi Huma, founder and president of the National College Players Association, which advocates for reforms in college athletics.

Most of the players under Rice at Rutgers were “willing to sustain physical abuse rather than risk their scholarship” to defend themselves or speak up about it, he says.

Those who did transfer away from Rice’s team were subject to an NCAA rule that takes away a year of eligibility, and that should be retroactively corrected Mr. Huma says. Players should be allowed to transfer once without penalty, he advocates. The NCAA should also make it mandatory for university athletics staff to report suspected abuse of players, he says, and should set up a way for players to report anonymously.

His group is among those calling for Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti and President Robert Barchi to be fired. “It seemed as though they hoped [the videos] would never be made public. They put that in front of the well being of their players,” he says.

More than 50 faculty members have called for Mr. Pernetti’s dismissal, and at least 28 have called for Mr. Barchi to resign, citing not only the handling of Rice’s behavior but also a "continued pattern of insensitivity and arrogance toward issues of diversity," the Associated Press reports.

The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, authored by congressmen from New Jersey, would require colleges receiving federal student aid to create policies that prohibit harassment of students by fellow students, faculty, or staff. Unlike many state laws, it would explicitly ban harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

Tyler Clementi killed himself while a student at Rutgers after his roommate watched him via webcam in an encounter with another man and tweeted about it – an incident that helped accelerate a strong antibullying law in New Jersey.


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