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Coach Mike Rice Fired For Abusing Players… 4 Months Too Late

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​Rutgers University has announced that they have fired Men’s Basketball coach Mike Rice, according to USA Today. The axe came down a day after ESPN showed footage of Rice grabbing, shoving, and kicking his players as well as nailing them with basketballs, at times even aiming at their heads from just a few feet away. He also is shown verbally abusing the student athletes and even going as far as using homophobic slurs while berating players. The abuse in the video took place during practices from 2010 to 2012. It’s well-known that Rice was an intense, old-school coach as seen on the sidelines during games, but it is eye opening how far he took his aggression behind closed doors.

Rutgers University has announced that they have fired Men’s Basketball coach Mike Rice, according to USA Today. The axe came down a day after ESPN showed footage of Rice grabbing, shoving, and kicking his players as well as nailing them with basketballs, at times even aiming at their heads from just a few feet away. He also is shown verbally abusing the student athletes and even going as far as using homophobic slurs while berating players. The abuse in the video took place during practices from 2010 to 2012. It’s well-known that Rice was an intense, old-school coach as seen on the sidelines during games, but it is eye opening how far he took his aggression behind closed doors.

Eric Murdock, former director of player personnel for the basketball team, submitted the video to ESPN, which was then aired on Outside The Lines. Murdock claims to have reported Rice’s actions to the athletic department in the summer of 2012 but no action was taken against the coach at that time. He says that he was then told that his contract would not be renewed. In November 2012, Murdock then gave the video to Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and other top Rutgers officials so they could see the visual evidence to support his claims. Shortly after, Rice was simply given a slap on the wrist as he was suspended for just 3 games and fined $50,000 and sent to anger management and sensitivity training.

Of course, the video had not gone public…yet

In this age of social media, once that story and video went public it was inevitable that it was going to go viral immediately, especially because it involves college athletics. It now has over 955,000 views and counting on YouTube. #Rutgers and #MikeRice are both trending on Twitter. The story got plenty of reaction from professional athletes as well, including LeBron James. He 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.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sent out 7 tweets concerning the situation. Even after Rutgers has fired Rice, this should still have a huge negative impact on their recruiting efforts. In the end he got fired for his intense and fiery personality, which is what Rutgers liked about him and hired him for in the first place. However, bullying students cannot be tolerated. What type of parent would want to send their kid to play at Rutgers now? It appears that universities view student athletes as nothing more than property.

The university completely mishandled the situation. They just swept it under the rug, hoping the video wouldn’t be released for the public to see how serious Rice’s transgressions were. Pernetti agreed to do several interviews, and what he revealed just made the university look awful. He claims that he went back and forth on whether he should have fired Rice back in December and felt that he ultimately had made the right decision by just suspending and fining him. University President Robert Barchi, who saw the footage of Rice as well, supported Pernetti’s initial decision. Pernetti also said that the school was prepared for the video to go public and knew it was going to happen eventually. Is that so? Then why wasn’t Rice fired then, instead of right after they heard the outcry from the public?

Rutgers’ handling of the situation and their motivation for not firing Rice immediately is similar to how Penn State handled their scandal, and is a big problem in college athletics. By no means are Rice’s actions comparable to Jerry Sandusky’s behavior. It just goes to show how much the bottom line and winning are bigger priorities than the well-being of the victims in each case.

Penn State and Rutgers wanted to cover themselves and avoid damaging their reputations, so they covered up the issues at hand and did nothing so that their athletic programs could go on running smoothly. It was inevitable that the truth was going to come out. As a matter of fact, the way that these schools handled themselves wound up backfiring and hurting their reputations even more.