Rutgers men's head basketball coach Mike Rice out-of-control temper has been an issue in the past, and this time, there's video evidence that will undoubtedly come as a shock to all in the college basketball community.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Apr. 3, at 10:24 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Mike Rice has been fired by Rutgers University following the leaked footage of inexcusable player abuse, the school announced Wednesday morning.
Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice.
'I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,' said Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Pernetti. '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.'
---End of update---
In a report for ESPN's Outside the Lines, Don Van Natta, Jr. details hours of abuse—physical and mental—that Rice has inflicted upon players during practices. In the video obtained by OTL, Rice is shown berating his players with homophobic slurs and throwing basketballs at their heads and legs, among other despicable transgressions.
This continuous abuse has caused at least three players to transfer from the program, according to former director of player development Eric Murdock, who spoke to Van Natta for the story.
Giving even more credence to the video evidence was former Scarlet Knights forward Gilvydas Biruta. The young Lithuanian transferred to Rhode Island due to Rice's behavior and detailed his former coach's abuse, per ESPN:
He would throw his cap at me and he would call me many names. The adjectives were creative. They were mean words. If you're going to criticize me as a basketball player, I'm OK with that, but he would criticize me as a person.
Rice was suspended three games and fined $50,000 back in December after the school was made aware of his actions. Rice apologized to players "past and present" when suspended and vowed to make amends for his past behavior.
He returned to his post following the three-game suspension, leading Rutgers to a 15-16 record, including 5-13 in the Big East. The 44-year-old coach has yet to have a winning season or make a postseason tournament appearance in his three years at Rutgers after taking the job prior to the 2010-11 season.
While Rutgers' investigation into its coach concluded in December, per Van Natta, the coming days could be telling for Rice's future. It's one thing for university officials to see that shocking video, but it's another when the court of public opinion and Scarlet Knight alumni take a look.
No matter what the result, the spotlight on Rice will be brighter than ever going forward.
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