Published on Apr 2, 2013
In a video shown Tuesday on ESPN, the Rutgers men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, is seen yelling homophobic slurs at his players, kicking them, grabbing them and shoving them. He also throws basketballs at their legs, their heads and their bodies from point-blank range — as if he were playing dodge ball.
The footage, taken at practices from 2010 to 2012, went viral Tuesday, putting Rice under scrutiny.
In December, after seeing the video, Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti fined Rice $50,000 and suspended him for three games. He offered little elaboration.
Messages left for Rice on Tuesday were not returned, and efforts to contact Pernetti were unsuccessful. An N.C.A.A. spokeswoman declined to comment.
In an interview Tuesday on WFAN radio, Pernetti said of fining and suspending Rice, rather than firing him: "I made that decision. I am accountable for it. I have to live with it."
He said: "In the end, I am not going to look back and say shoulda, woulda. All I can do is figure out going forward the decisions I can make to fix the problem for Rutgers."
In a statement on behalf of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, his press secretary, Michael Drewniak, said: "Governor Christie saw the video today for the first time, and he is obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behavior. It's not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people, and clearly there are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University."
The video was compiled by Eric Murdock, a former Rutgers director of player personnel. Murdock's lawyer, Raj Gadhok, said Murdock reported Rice's actions last summer, and later was told his contract would not be renewed. In November, Gadhok said, Murdock presented the video, which is said to be about 30 minutes in length, to Pernetti and other Rutgers officials.
By Dec. 13, Pernetti concluded his investigation and issued Rice's punishment. After the season, in which Rutgers finished 15-16, Pernetti publicly backed Rice, and he reiterated Tuesday to reporters that Rice would not be fired, barring any further incident.
Murdock said he planned to sue Rutgers for wrongful termination. Gadhok said that before Murdock reported Rice's actions, he had been told his contract would be renewed.
The footage, apparently, was not supposed to be shown on ESPN until Sunday, but when word leaked, Rutgers showed it first to a group of reporters Tuesday. After the viewing, Pernetti told the reporters that the gay slur was "at the core" of Rice's suspension in December. The physical contact, though, shocked many.
Jalen Rose, an ESPN basketball analyst, sent out a Twitter message saying: "The video of Rutgers H.C. Rice abusing players is appalling! He should be fired ASAP."
In 1997, Indiana Coach Bob Knight was caught on tape choking a player named Neil Reed in practice. In 2000, when Reed spoke out about the incident and a video surfaced, Knight was placed on a zero-tolerance policy. Six months later, he was fired.
Rice is not the first Rutgers basketball coach to draw the public's ire for an incident during practice. In 1997, Kevin Bannon ordered two players and two student managers to run sprints naked, as part of a free-throw-shooting contest. The two players later transferred. Bannon was not fired until 2001, when the incident was revisited publicly by the players.
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