UPDATE: Rutgers announced in a statement Wednesday that it has terminated men’s basketball coach Mike Rice’s contract, “based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues.”
(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) — Last December, Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was suspended by the New Jersey university for three games and fined $50,000 although school officials were vague about the reasons then.
However, video shown by ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Tuesday reveals Rice verbally and physically abused his players during practice. Among other things, Rice can be seen grabbing players by the shirt, throwing balls directly at them and at least in once instance, using homophobic slurs.
Eric Murdock, a former director of player development, supplied ESPN with the film, telling the network, “To witness that video and see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, firing balls at players at point-blank range, the verbal abuse, the belittling. Yeah, I was in total shock that this guy wasn’t fired.”
Questioned why more wasn’t done to punish Rice for what appears to be egregious abuse of students, Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti told reporters on Tuesday, “Honestly, we’ve dealt with this issue…Look, there’s going to be backlash anytime you deal with a situation like this. I think that Mike is in the most difficult position of anybody because he is the focal point of the story. But I don’t think we could’ve spent any more time investigating the matter than we did.”
However, with the video having gone public, more fallout is expected. Rutgers finished the season 15–16 and 5–13 in Big East play to finish in 12th place.
By late Tuesday, there were reports that Rutgers was reconsidering its decision to retain Rice, who was hired in 2010.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters that after seeing the video, Christie said, “There are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University.”
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