Less than 24 hours after video footage of Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing his players during team practices went public, the school has announced on Wednesday (April 3) that they have fired him.
“Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice,” the statement from the school reads.
Rice met with athletic director Tim Pernetti, who had previously been made aware of the footage of the coach throwing basketballs at a player’s head, kicking another, and using homophobic slurs during a verbal beatdown on yet another, on Wednesday. When Pernetti first viewed a portion of the footage in December, he opted to only suspend Rice for three games and fine him $50,000. The reason cited? “Inappropriate behavior and language.”
“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Pernetti said, via prepared statement. “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.”
The disgraced coach held a press conference in front of his New Jersey home on Wednesday, calling his actions “deeply regrettable.”
“I can’t say anything right now except I’m sorry,” Rice said. “There is never going to be a time when I use any of that as an excuse…I’ve let so many people down — my players, administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family sitting huddle around just because their father was an embarrassment to them. It’s troubling. At some time maybe I’ll try to explain it. But right now…there is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I’m going to tell everybody who believed in my that I’m deeply sorry for the pain and sorrow that I’ve caused.
Rutgers being a state school, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie weighed in on the video, revealed by former director of player development Eric Murdock, saying he was “deeply disturbed.” After the firing, the governor released a statement alluding that Rice and the university may face more trouble down the line.
“I’m puzzled as to how anyone could think Mr. Rice was someone who should be representing our state university on a national level. I expect a full and detailed explanation from the Rutgers administration as to why Mr. Rice was not dismissed sooner and how exactly that decision was made. If answers aren’t forthcoming, we are prepared to do what’s needed to get them for the people of New Jersey.”