Rutgers University has fired head basketball coach Mike Rice, after a videotape obtained by ESPN shows him verbally and physically abusing his players. Rice is seen shoving them during practice and hurling basketballs at them at close range. He can also be heard berating the players, using anti-gay slurs.
Rutgers had no choice but to fire Rice after the release of the video, said Bruce Beck, WNBC sports anchor on Jansing & Co Wednesday.
“This is 2013. We’re in the age of Twitter and Facebook, social media dominates and this stuff goes rampant,” Beck said. “Yesterday when everyone watched the video, it was like the mothers and fathers at home voted on this as well. And Rutgers heard all the reaction. Being a state university, they had to do this.”
Rutgers used Twitter to announce the firing: “Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice.”
Later, Rutgers President Robert Barachi released a more detailed statement.
“Coach Rice’s abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university’s core values,” Barchi said. “Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior. I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability. He cannot continue to coach at Rutgers University. Therefore, (Athletic Director) Tim Pernetti and I have jointly decided to terminate Mike Rice’s employment at Rutgers.”
Outside his home, Rice apologized for the controversy, “I can’t say anything right now except I’m sorry, and there will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse or will there be any excuse,” he said. “I’ve let so many people down, my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family—who’s sitting in their house, just huddled around because of the fact that their father was an embarrassment to them.”
Beck said that it’s hard to reconcile the Mike Rice seen on the videotape with the Rice that he knows.
“I do know Mike Rice as a great family man, I know him as a gentleman off the court,” Beck said. “But obviously when he crosses that line (on the basketball court) he crossed the line in terms of the way he dealt with these players.”