ESPN just aired this shocking (and very disturbing) footage of Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice throwing basketballs at his players, physically attacking them, and doing a lot of very angry cursing. What’s seen here is what led to Rice’s three-game suspension and $50,000 fine in December. The public didn’t fully know the reason for the discipline back then, but we certainly do now.
It’s also worth pointing out that not only is Rice still employed by Rutgers as its men’s basketball coach, but that the university is standing by its actions from December, even in light of this more-public revelation. Back then, Rutgers only stated (in ESPN’s verbiage) that “the suspension is related to inappropriate behavior and language, and does not involve any NCAA violations.”
That they’re not wrong about that wording is itself disturbing. A coach throwing basketballs at a kid’s groin? Shouting “faggot”? Violently grabbing a kid by the jersey? These do not, in the NCAA’s mind, constitute “violations.”
Of course, people will want to point out that Bobby Knight was once caught on tape choking one of his players. This was in 1997, and Knight continued to be gainfully employed for another decade or so. But does the fact that Knight was a more successful coach make this kind of abhorrent bullying any more appropriate then or now?
Athletic director Tim Pernetti and the university still stand behind Rice, and there are no indications that he’s likely to be fired anytime soon. That may be a moot point in the end, because what responsible parent would let their child play for Rice now?