Rutgers University’s Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Rice is now the “former men’s basketball coach” for Rutgers University in a move that may shield the majority of the university’s higher administration. The termination came after video of Rice surfaced where he was abusive to players, throwing basketballs, shovign them, and using profane and homophobic language including saying “fucking faggot.”
Complaints against Rice have been piling up since last summer, but the video footage did not come to the Rutgar administration until December. In December, they suspended Rice and fined him $50,000 and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training; however, this was not enough for groups like GLAAD and HRC.
Rutgers’ Director of Athletics Tim Pernetti stated that he was wrong for not firing Rice initially, but also stated that “I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice. 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.”
Pernetti may be having some major problems regaining trust especially given the problems that Rutgers University has had in the past regarding LGBT issues. Tyler Clementi was a student at Rutgers before he committed suicide after his roommate transmitted his sexual liaison across the web.
The situation may be far more complex and problematic for Pernetti. Ex-NBA player Murdock reported Rice’s behavior when he served as director of player development. HE reported to Pernetti in July that Rice was engaging illegal conduct, but rather than Rice being fired, Murdock’s contract was allowed to lapse.
Others have called for Pernetti’s firing as well since he treated Rice leniently; however, Pernetti has defended his actions claiming that it was Rice’s “first offense”, which is not a rationalization that is getting a lot a lot of support. Here is what he had to say for himself:
What is not good is that Rutgers president Robert Barchi was also aware of the abuse and did not act on it at all. Barchi has admitted to supporting Pernetti’s plan to rehabilitate Rice, and only changed his mind to terminate Rice once the video went public. He stated “Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior. I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability.”
Following the bullying-related suicide of Clementi, Rutgers University was suppose to take a zero-tolerance view of bullying, and this now throws the entirety of that attempt into disarray and doubt.