Mike Rice Fired: Rutgers Basketball Coach Finally Axed After Practice Video Goes Viral
Mike Rice, Rutgers men’s basketball coach, has finally been fired after a video of him physically and verbally abusing players was leaked.
"Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice," read a tweet by Rutgers athletics.
Rice initially came under fire when Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was made aware of the tape back in November. Pernetti opted to punish the head coach by suspending him for three games and fining him $50,000. Rice went without pay and was forbidden from being around the Rutgers basketball program from Dec. 13 to Dec. 28.
On Wednesday morning, a day after the tape went viral, Pernetti’s hand was forced to issue a more permanent punishment. "I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice," he said. "Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community."
Eric Murdock, a former professional basketball player who served as an assistant under Rice and who initially compiled the tape, had been terminated after providing the evidence of Rice’s behavior. In an interview with ESPN, Murdoch elaborated on the events that unfolded that were caught on camera, and his firing that took place thereafter.
The scenes depicted in the tape even caught the attention of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “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,” read a statement from Christie’s press secretary Michael Drewniak. “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.”
Rice is not the first Rutgers basketball coach whose coaching practices have caught the negative attention of the public. Back in 1997, Kevin Bannon had made two players and two student managers run sprints while naked. The two humiliated players later transferred, but it wasn’t until 2001 that Bannon was fired when the incident reemerged in the media.