Rutgers Coach Fired for Assaulting, Berating Players
(PISCATAWAY, N.J.) — Rutgers University fired men’s basketball coach Mike Rice Wednesday morning after ESPN aired video of his shoving and kicking players while berating them with gay slurs.
“Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice,” Rutgers Athletics tweeted Wednesday morning.
Rice, 44, apologized for his behavior Wednesday in an interview outside his house.
“I’ve let so many people down: my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family,” Rice told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.
“There’s no explanation for what’s on that film. There’s no excuse for it. I was wrong. And I want to tell everybody who’s believed in me that I’m deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I’ve caused,” he continued.
Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Pernetti released a statement Wednesday, saying, “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,” Pernetti continued.
The video caused outrage across social media after it was aired, with thousands, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and NBA star LeBron James, chiming in.
“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,” James tweeted Tuesday.
Christie said he supported the school’s action.
“This was a regrettable episode for the University, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice,” the governor said in a statement Wednesday. “It was the right and necessary action to take in light of the conduct displayed on the videotape.”
The video of Rice aired Tuesday on ESPN Outside the Lines and shows numerous clips of him at practice hurling basketballs at players, hitting them in the back, legs, feet and shoulders.
Rice was also shown pushing players in the chest and grabbing them by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. He could be heard screaming obscenities and gay slurs at players.
Pernetti was shown hours of video in late November by a former employee. He suspended Rice for three games a month later, fined him $50,000 and ordered him to attend anger-management classes. At the time, Pernetti didn’t elaborate on the details of the suspension.
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