PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBSMiami) – Rutgers University fired men’s basketball coach Mike Rice Wednesday less than 24 hours after a videotape was released that showed him shoving, grabbing, verbally abusing, kicking, and even throwing ball at his players’ heads during practice.
The videotape was obtained by ESPN and aired on the show “Outside the Lines” Tuesday afternoon. The video prompted scorn from Miami Heat superstar LeBron James and even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“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,” LeBron tweeted out Tuesday evening.
A spokesman for Governor Christie said he was “deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behavior.”
The problem for Rutgers is athletic director Tim Pernetti and even the university president had previously seen the tape and together only suspended Rice for three games, fined him $50,000, and ordered him to attend anger management classes.
However, once the outcry started after the video aired, it was only at that point that Pernetti and the school’s administration decided to cut ties with Rice. Pernetti owned up to the decision to keep Rice on staff after the video was first seen by university administration.
“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Pernetti said. “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.”
The bigger question is whether Rutgers will want to keep Pernetti around after such a spectacle. Plus, will there be any action against either Pernetti or the university president for not acting sooner on the issue.
Rice was caught on tape using homophobic slurs amidst the abuse that he was dishing out on his players. At one point, he threw a basketball at the head of one of the players during a practice.
Rutgers has been in the national news twice before in the last few years for major scandals. A few years ago, a student killed himself after being outed as a homosexual by a roommate who broadcast an encounter on the internet.
Rutgers’ women’s basketball team was the target of racial slurs from former shock-jock radio host Don Imus a few years ago as well.