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Pop Culture Clash : Rutgers & Mike Rice


Pop Culture Clash

by Chris Pierce

Rutgers & Mike Rice


Video has come to light of Rutgers University Men’s basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing his student athletes.  Rice threw basketballs at his players and called them derogatory names .

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a tape of the incident on November 26.  As I write this it is April 4 and Rice was only fired on April 2.  Pernetti had this tape in his passion for just over 4 months.  Rice was suspended for 3 games and fined $50,000 after Pernetti was made aware of the tape.  The reason for the suspension and fine were not disclosed to even the athletic committee or the board of directors of the university.  A Rutgers source indicated to me that Pernetti said “ I knew the tapes would come to light” and yet he still did not do the right thing.  The source also indicated that he now expects that Pernetti will become a casualty of his own stupidity as well.

Rice held a news conference at his home and he apologized “for the pain and hardship that I’ve caused.”  “There will never be a time when I use any of that as an excuse,” Rice said, referring to his efforts toward a change in behavior. “I’ve let so many people down. My players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans. My family, who’s sitting in their house just huddled around because of the fact that their father was an embarrassment to them.

“It’s troubling, but I will at some time, maybe I’ll try to explain it, but right now, there’s no explanation for what’s on those films. Because there is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I want to tell everybody who’s believed in me that I’m deeply sorry.”

As a former youth swimming coach who is now coaching my son’s baseball team, Rice maybe able to rehabilitate himself going forward and maybe come a changed man but he should never be able to coach basketball at any level again.  No one deserves to be treated the way he treated his players.  Yes coaches are going to scream and yell at players but there is a line you do not cross as a coach and verbally and physically abusing them is a line that Rice crossed and for that should pay a price.

People are going to say that athletes should be tough and that former coaches like Bob Knight got away with this kind of thing in the past.  To that I say we are in different times and good leaders lead by example and adapt to the times.  Even Bob Knight refused to talk to ESPN his own employer about the situation.  That in and of itself should speak volumes.



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