Less than 24 hours after this explosive series of video excerpts was released by ESPN, in which Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice is seen hurling basketballs at players’ heads and groins and screaming a variety of homophobic slurs during practice (“you fucking fairy…you’re a fucking faggot”), the university has fired Rice effective immediately. It made the announcement via Twitter.
Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice.— Jason Baum (@JasonBaumRU) April 3, 2013
Here’s the statement released by athletic director Tim Pernetti (who defended Rice on ESPN yesterday after the video aired):
“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.”
An hour before Rice was fired, the Human Rights Campaign released the following statement from its president, Chad Griffin:
“Mike Rice’s despicable behavior is completely unacceptable and Rutgers should fire him immediately. What a disgrace for Rice to use such offensive and disturbing language as a means to intimidate players he is meant to lead.
“Imagine the kids at home who look up to Rice as a role model and may view his behavior as a license to bully. Rutgers has an opportunity to send a powerful message that this sort of disgusting behavior should never be tolerated.”
Now that Rice is out, the question becomes whether AD Tim Pernetti will keep his job. We’ll update this post with any further…updates.
Update - Apr. 3, 11 a.m: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just tweeted a series of statements in support of Rice’s firing by the university:
This was a regrettable episode for @rutgersu, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
It was the right & necessary action to take in light of the conduct displayed on the videotape.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
Parents entrust their sons to the @ruathletics Department & the men’s basketball program at an incredibly formative period of their lives.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
The way these young men were treated by the head coach was completely unacceptable &violates the trust parents put in @rutgersu.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
All of the student-athletes entrusted to our care deserve much better.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
As we move on from this, I’m very optimistic that @rutgersu will select a new head coach who not only puts a winning team on the court…— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
…but will make everyone proud of the example he sets every day for the young men in his charge.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) April 3, 2013
And the calls for Athletic Director Tim Pernetti to also be fired have begun in earnest. Here’s an excerpt from Exavier Pope’s posting on Chicago Now:
I am a Rutgers University School of Law alumnus.
I owe Rutgers University a great deal of debt.
However, it is this debt which now leads me to call for either the termination or the forced extended leave of absence for Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti pending further investigation into his role in handling Mike Rice’s initial suspension.
Athletic Director Tim Pernetti decided a suspension of 3 games and fining Mike Rice $50,000 was appropriate.
Unfortunately it was not, and the university is now paying a heavy penalty legally, public relations wise, financially, and possibly academically. That’s where I draw the line.
As for Rice himself, he’s just released a brief statement:
“I can’t say anything right now, except I’m sorry. … I’ve let everybody down.” - Former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 3, 2013
Here’s video of Rice outside his home today: