Rutgers Coach Fired After Film Shows Player Abuse

Mike Rice screamed slurs, hurled basketballs at heads

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 3, 2013 12:42 AM CDT | Updated Apr 3, 2013 9:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rutgers has fired Mike Rice over a video obtained by ESPN that shows the men's basketball coach hurling balls at players' heads and bodies from point-blank range and yelling abuse, including homophobic slurs. Rice was suspended for three games and fined $50,000 in December after athletic director Tim Pernetti viewed the video, compiled from practice sessions by former Rutgers director of player personnel Erick Murdoch. In a statement obtained by the Star-Ledger, Pernetti explains that he initially tried to "rehabilitate" Rice, but that "was wrong" and the coach has now been terminated. (Murdoch says he himself was fired after trying to blow the whistle on Rice's illegal conduct and he plans to sue for wrongful termination.)

Chris Christie was among those to condemn Rice's behavior after the video surfaced, the New York Times reports. The New Jersey governor is "obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behavior," a spokesman 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." Sports columnist Steve Politi at the Star-Ledger called for Rice's firing, saying "Rutgers can’t have a basketball coach, a man who represents the university on national TV two dozen times a year, screaming the word 'faggot' at a player. It can’t move forward with that damning, awful video for the world to see with Rice still earning a hefty paycheck."

Mike Rice reacts to play during an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut early last years.
Mike Rice reacts to play during an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut early last years.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
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Excerpts from the video were first aired on ESPN.   (ESPN)

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