Rutgers men's basketball head coach Mike Rice Jr. has been fired, according to the school's official Twitter feed.
UPDATE: Thursday, April 4, at 11:09 a.m. ET by Patrick Clarke
Mike Rice is set to receive a $100,000 bonus for coaching through the entire 2012-13 season according to the AP's Geoff Mulvihill. Despite the actions that led to Rice's firing from Rutgers, the bonus will still be received because "it's contractually obligated," according to Athletic Department spokesman Jason Baum via Mulvihill.
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UPDATE: Thursday, April 4, at 10:34 a.m. ET by Patrick Clarke
In the wake of Mike Rice's firing at Rutgers, a pair of former players have spoken out in defense of the now infamous coach (via NBC Sports' Rob Dauster).
“They also don’t account for all the other things that go on in our program,” Austin Johnson told TODAY’s Natalie Morales. “Coach Rice has done a lot for me and my family.” Said Sean Bannon, “I think the large majority of the players felt the exact same way I did. I don’t think we were ever really uncomfortable or felt threatened.”
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To replace Rice, the Scarlet Knights have appointed David Cox, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY.TV.
Athletic director Tim Pernetti released a statement regarding the decision:
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.
Rice also issued a statement, according to ESPN's SportsCenter Twitter account:
The New Jersey Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty reported early this morning that Pernetti had called Rice into a meeting.
According to two people with knowledge of Rice's plans, the embattled head coach has been called into a meeting with athletic director Tim Pernetti Wednesday. While the individuals did not specify the reason for the meeting, it likely has to do with Rice's job status after revelations were made public when the practice tape displaying his behavior and abuse towards players was aired Tuesday.
Shortly thereafter, Tara Sullivan of the The Record (N.J.) reported that Rice would be getting the axe.
The Scarlet Knights went 44-51 overall and 16-38 in the Big East with Rice at the helm. The team did not make any postseason tournament in that three-year span.
We now know what caused Rutgers to take such harsh action toward its head coach in December, when the university hit Rice with a three-game suspension and $50,000 fine for inappropriate behavior in violation of school rules (via ESPN).
As you can see in the video aired by ESPN's Outside the Lines on Tuesday afternoon, Rice physically berated and verbally abused his players during Scarlet Knights team practices. The footage shows him shoving them and throwing basketballs at their heads while using profanities and homophobic slurs.
As shocking as such behavior is to witness, it is indicative of the coach's fiery temper on the sidelines since being hired in 2010.
Rice has 20-plus years of collegiate coaching experience under his belt. He held assistant jobs at Marquette, Saint Joseph's and Pittsburgh before being hired as Robert Morris' head coach prior to the 2007-08 season—his first such head job.
The Colonials did quite well under Rice, winning 73 games during his three seasons as head coach. Robert Morris went to the NIT once and the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons under his tutelage, prompting Rutgers to make him its new head coach prior to the 2010-11 season.
The marriage obviously did not end well.
The December suspension has proven to be a Band-Aid covering up a much deeper-seated issue—one that should now place Pernetti and other university officials involved in this matter under heightened scrutiny.
When the December incident was first reported, players were "shocked" Rice had been suspended. Senior forward Austin Johnson was one of those players (per the ESPN suspension report):
No, I don't recall seeing anything specifically, Johnson said. All I recall is high-intensity practices, day in, day out. Even if it was high intensity, we reciprocated and we tried to give it back. ... We're all in Coach Rice's corner. Me and my teammates are gonna come together, and play as hard as we can for Coach Cox.
Rutgers had no further issue with Rice during the 2012-13 season, but the backlash from the leaked practice videos and Rice's poor Big East record (16-38 over three seasons) was enough to send the men's basketball program in another direction.
With that, we can add Rutgers to the list of teams searching for a new head coach.
By the same token, add Mike Rice to the list of names that likely won't be getting a call from another program anytime soon. We've seen sideline personalities such as his succeed in college basketball (Bob Knight is probably the best example), but the way in which Rice conducted team practices was completely unacceptable.
He's now on the unemployment line, and deservedly so.