NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, among others, have weighed in on the Rutgers scandal. Mike Rice, Rutgers' former basketball coach, was fired Wednesday amid a public outcry over how he treated students in a video aired by ESPN. In the video, Rice can be seen pushing, hitting and throwing basketballs at players while verbally abusing them.
Tweeted Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant:
Wrote LeBron James:
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— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 2, 2013
Others showed some support for Rice, including two of his former players. Lakers' forward Metta World Peace, in a series of tweets, said that he felt bad for the "Rutgers situation," adding that he thought "passion got the best of coach."
I have played for coaches with the same intensity. This is a new day in sports and it is not as accepted as it was when I played— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) April 4, 2013
The video of Rice was initially brought to the attention of Rutgers' administration by Eric Murdock, the program's former director of player development. After an internal investigation last year, Rice was suspended for three games, fined $75,000 and ordered to attend anger management classes.
Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and university President Robert Barchi received a lot of heat for not doing more.
On Friday, Pernetti resigned. Some prominent figures have publicly come out in support of Pernetti, including former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed in 2010.
Tweeted LeGrand before Pernetti's resignation was announced:
Heading up to RU in support of Tim Pernetti to talk to some media. #KeepTimPernetti the things this man has done for me is indescribable— Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) April 5, 2013
A Facebook group called "I Support Tim Pernetti" has more than 4,000 members.
Pernetti said in his statement that he wished he had fired Rice.
"As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice's behavior was to fire him immediately," the statement said. "However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel. Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved."
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