Mike Rice, head coach of the Rutgers University men’s basketball team, was fired Wednesday after video of him throwing basketballs at athletes and using gay slurs aired on ESPN.
The school’s athletic director, Tim Pernetti, had seen the video in November of last year. At that time Pernetti, along with Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers, decided to fine Rice $50,000, forced him to attend anger-management classes, and suspended him for three days.
However, public outcry after the video aired on ESPN Tuesday prompted the school to re-evaluate its decision.
“Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior,” Barchi said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
Everyone from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who a spokesman said was “deeply disturbed” by Rice’s conduct, to Miami Heat star LeBron James, condemned Rice after the video aired.
“This was a regrettable episode for the university, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice,” the governor said in a statement Wednesday. “It was the right and necessary action to take in light of the conduct displayed on the videotape…All of the student-athletes entrusted to our care deserve much better.”
Rutgers relies on state funding as a state university system.
“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,” James tweeted Tuesday.
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 James (@KingJames) April 2, 2013
Rice’s repeated use of homophobic slurs to berate his players drew particular criticism to the school, which has struggled to address the needs of its LGBT students since the 2010 suicide death of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman. Clementi jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge after a roommate at the school videotaped him in an intimate moment with another man.