Rutgers Under Pressure Over Mike Rice Video [VIDEO/POLL]
Rutgers University is under pressure over how it should react to a video of basketball coach Mike Rice aired by ESPN that shows him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.
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 screaming obscenities and gay slurs at players.
Near Universal Reaction
There is outrage from all corners over the video from Governor Chris Christie to the Miami Heat star LeBron James wondering why Rice still has a job after Rutgers was made aware of his behavior last fall.
Christie in a statement said he was "deeply disturbed" by what he saw on the video which he saw for the first time on Tuesday. 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.”
That sentiment was echoed by the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly who both called for Rice to be fired.
"Clearly this is someone who should not be teaching young people. Rutgers needs to explain why this was kept essentially secret and they need to remove this man now!"said Senate President Steve Sweeney in a statement. ""The conduct of Mike Rice is unacceptable not only at our state university, but in all circumstances. It is offensive and unbecoming of our state," wrote Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. "Mike Rice should no longer be employed by Rutgers University. He must go."
LeBron James tweeted "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! C'mon."
"I made that decision. I am accountable for it."
Athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in late November by a former employee. He suspended Rice for three games a month later, fined him $50,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes. It was Eric Murdock, a former director of player development whose contract was not renewed, who gave Rutgers the video. He also told ESPN that the abuse led to multiple players transferring to other schools.
During ESPN's Outside The Lines it was noted that Murdock,a Bridgewater native, is "pursing legal action" for wrongful termination according to the Daily Record. Purnetti says Murdock was fired for "insubordination."
"To witness that video and see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, firing balls at players at point-blank range, the verbal abuse, the belittling. Yeah, I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired," Murdock said on ESPN.
Pernetti said he understands why many are asking 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 ... 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.
Rice was a studio analyst for CBS Sports Network during the recent NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.