Mike Rice fired as Rutgers coach after airing of practice video
Mike Rice was fired as the Rutgers basketball coach Wednesday, one day after ESPN aired a video that showed him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and directing anti-gay slurs toward them during practice.
Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was given the video in November by Eric Murdock, a former NBA player who was at one time the director of player development under Rice. Pernetti hired independent investigators to analyze the tape and, with the blessing of university President Robert Barchi, suspended Rice for three games, fined him $50,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes.
But the airing of the video sparked a public outcry, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“Gov. 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.”
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) took it a step further.
“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.”
In a Wednesday email from Rutgers, new information and “a review of previously discovered issues” were given as the reasons for Rice’s termination.
“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.”
Rice was 44-51 in three seasons at Rutgers, going just 16-38 in the Big East. This season, the Scarlet Knights were 15-16, 5-13 in conference play.
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