Rutgers fires basketball coach Mike Rice after abusive video is broadcast by ESPN
Rutgers University in New Jersey suspended coach Mike Rice after a videotape of him physically and verbally assaulting players on the men's basketball team was presented to university officials last fall. After the tape was broadcast on ESPN Tuesday, the university terminated Rice's employment.
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In an interview with WFAN Radio in New York on Tuesday, Pernetti confirmed that Barchi viewed the tape last fall and agreed with the punishment. But ESPN's broadcast prompted an outcry, led by the governor himself.Skip to next paragraph
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"Governor Christie saw the video today for the first time and he is obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behavior," spokesman Michael Drewniak said. "It's not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people and clearly there are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University."
The video shows numerous clips of Rice at practice firing basketballs at players, hitting them in the back, legs, feet and shoulders. Rice was also shown pushing players in the chest and grabbing them by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. Rice could be heard yelling obscenities at players and using gay slurs.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) called Rice's conduct "unacceptable not only at our state university, but in all circumstances. It is offensive and unbecoming of our state."
"Mike Rice should no longer be employed by Rutgers University," Oliver said. "He must go. Meanwhile, the decision not to dismiss him last year needs a complete and thorough review."
After landing the position in 2010, Rice moved his family from Pittsburgh to Little Silver, N.J. He quickly became part of the fabric of that community, often attending church functions and youth games that his children played in. But on the practice floor, some 30 miles away, obviously, a different person surfaced.
"You have to be always cautious about public reaction, because the reaction the public is having is the same I had when I saw it (the film)," Pernetti told the radio station. "I am factoring everything into what we do going forward. The most important thing I am factoring in is trying to make sure that we don't do harm to Rutgers University, because we are small slice of the pie here at this great place. I don't want to put any negatively on the university when we have a lot of real good things going on."
Pernetti said he understands why many asked why Rice wasn't fired after the initial investigation.
"I spent more time with that option on whether we should fire Mike or not than any other option," he said. "At the same the results of the investigation where we ended up, the determination was made to suspend him. My biggest concern as the AD is that I am always trying to protect the interests and reputation of the university and that's what makes this one so difficult. There is a lot of hindsight, 20-20, .... that there will be no other option than to terminate Mike. I made that decision. I am accountable for it. I have to live with it."
Rice was Pernetti's first major hire after getting the AD's job. And after the regular season, in fact, despite the suspension and the losing record, Pernetti announced at the Big East tournament that Rice would return to the Rutgers bench.