Rutgers University has been plagued by numerous unfortunate occurrences over the past few years. And like my peers, I feel like our school can’t catch a break from bad publicity. The all too familiar scene of news vans lined up on campus returned Wednesday morning after the announcement of Mike Rice’s termination, and students quickly turned to social media. Many reacted with anger and disgust, while others were glad that such an abusive situation for student athletes was finally exposed.
“As an athlete, I’ve heard of coaches being verbally and physically abusive, and I wouldn’t say it’s uncommon,” said Brandon DeLibero, a member of the Rutgers Ice Hockey team. “I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to deal with an environment like that myself, but it is a style that some coaches choose to employ.”
One Rutgers basketball player is coming to his former coach’s defense, however. NJ.com reports that Austin Johnson, who played for Rice for 3 years, said the issue is being blown out of proportion. Johnson says that abusive coaching environments are the norm.
Other students are angered by the situation. “After the Tyler Clementi incident, Rutgers has done a lot of good work to celebrate the diversity of its student population, but the actions of Mike Rice counteract much of the good we have done as a University,” said one Rutgers senior. He disagreed with the view that the story is being unfairly exaggerated. “While I am sure similar events happen at college practices across the country, throwing basketball at students cannot be tolerated.”
Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti has also come under fire for what some have described as slow and ineffective reaction to the scandal.
Some students I spoke to disagree. “The University did not just sweep the problems under a rug. Action was taken to fix the problem,” said Rutgers junior Amber Danku. Others describe the coverage as “somewhat unfair” and “sensationalist,” saying the $50,000 fine and Rice’s suspension in December 2012 were valid steps taken in attempt to correct the problem at the time.
Anthony Rodriguez, the student sports director at the campus television network, said that he doesn’t think Pernetti’s job is at risk. “This is not something that Rutgers hid.” Rodriguez said that the fine, suspension, mandatory practice reviews, and ultimately the termination of Rice were all adequate steps taken by RU Athletics.
It’s difficult to watch yet another blow to my school’s reputation. The scandal could have been better handled, but like Amber Danku, I trust that the university will ultimately make the right decision. “When something that goes against our standards happens, it affects the entire community, but I still have all the faith in the world for our school and the future of our athletic programs,” Danku said.