The Rutgers Universitymen’s basketball team didn’t make it to the NCAA tournament this year, but the school is grabbing March Madness headlines. Unfortunately, it’s for the crazy news of how physically and verbally abusive the team’s coach had treated his players, and the university’s initial response to it.
On Tuesday, the ESPN program “Outside the Lines” aired a segment on Rutgers coach Mike Rice that included a video of him hurling basketballs at players’ heads and feet, verbally attacking them and using homophobic slurs in his on-the-court rants. After the video was initially shown late last year to the university’s athletic director, who has said he showed it to the university’s president, Rice was suspended for three games, fined $50,000 and asked to attend anger management coaching.
By Wednesday morning, however, the fury over the video — which prompted public outrage from many including Governor Chris Christie and NBA star LeBron James — led Rutgers to finally fire its coach. In a statement, Athletic Director Tim Pernetti said, “I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice. 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.”