Abusive basketball coach out at Rutgers University Rutgers University men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired last week for after video of his actions were released to the public

By Edwin Blebu

Last week Rutgers University came under substantial media attention as some very disturbing practice footage of men’s basketball coach Mike Rice went viral. The footage explicitly showed Rice verbally and physically abusing his players with a variety of homophobic slurs and other aggressive and demeaning language. Rice was shown excessively kicking, hitting and throwing basketballs at his players during several practices at the university.

Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was first shown the footage in November by former director of player development, Eric Murdock, but opted to reprimand Rice by fining and suspending him for three games.

Unfortunately, Rice’s conduct resumed, and only when the video of his abuse went viral did the university feel pressured to terminate the employment of its head basketball coach. When asked if he had anything to say the former coach tried to appear remorseful for his actions.

“I stated three months after watching the video how deeply regrettable those actions [are]. I also stated I was going to try to work on changing and I think I accomplished a lot of that. Can’t say anything now except I’m sorry and there will never be a time when I will use any of that as an excuse,” Rice said.

As the video gained national attention, current NBA superstar LeBron James of the Miami Heat offered his own take on the footage via twitter.

“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 said.

James’ tweet offers a very realistic and often overlooked perspective regarding the treatment of collegiate athletes at major universities. Often student athletes are only viewed in relation to the success of their athletic program. People tend to forget that at the end of the day, collegiate athletes are the sons and daughters of parents who entrust individuals like Rice to lookout for the best interests of their children at all times.

Instances similar to that at Rutgers University could very well occur at other college campuses but have yet to surface for one reason or another. Many New Jersey public officials have referred to the recent situation at Rutgers University as a failure of leadership, not a failure of process, because the Athletic Director and University President failed to show sound judgement in their handling of the incident.

As strict as the NCAA has been over issues of players accepting unauthorized assistance from agents or boosters or recruiting violations, it will be interesting to see if officials will begin to institute special procedures to detect and punish universities who show a lack of judgment in cases similar to the one at Rutgers University.