Only a real jerk would find Rutgers University head basketball coach Mike Rice faultless for his ballistic behavior captured on camera.
Rice swore like a sailor during his tirades while running the team’s practices.
Like a school yard bully, he also kicked, pushed, pounded, grabbed and hit players with basketballs all the while hurling homophobic and misogynist slurs at them.
The university suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes after former employee Eric Murdock showed school officials the shocking sliced together ‘highlight’ tape in November.
That punishment was a slap on the wrist, and we might not have known about Rice’s antics had ESPN not aired the tape on Tuesday.
NBA player LeBron James and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were among those outraged by the abuses that would make nearly anyone with eyes and ears shake their heads.
If the maltreatment were committed against dogs, someone may have called the Humane Society.
With his buns in the hot seat, University President Robert Barchi, who had initially signed off on Rice’s earlier ‘punishment,’ toughened his stance Wednesday.
“Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior,” Barchi said in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “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. He cannot continue to coach at Rutgers University.”
Really!?! You don’t say.
It is not as if key university officials could have been that unaware of the severity of the situation before the video was leaked.
Matters were so bad that as many as three players, including Lithuanian-born forward Gilvydas Biruta, transferred from the team during Rice’s three-year reign of terror as coach.
Two years of being bullied and called nicknames like “Lithuanian F——” was too much for Biruta, according to media reports.
Rice has apologized for the bad behavior first hinted at by The New Jersey Star-Ledger in December, but it is really Rutgers who needs to repent along with other institutions who put winning before players’ well-being.
The school’s attempt to sweep the incident under the rug is just another example of a university looking the other way instead of doing what’s in the victims’ best interest.
The most shocking in recent years is the Pennsylvania State University Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal that left legendary football coach Joe Paterno and others in disgrace, and the school’s gridiron victories were vacated from 1998–2011.
A Penn State funded investigation has concluded Paterno and other top university officials covered up allegations Sandusky molested young boys in order to protect the university’s reputation. Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Then there are considerably less significant cover-ups like tattoo-gate, which ultimately led to former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel’s 2011 resignation.
Each time these incidents occur we are left scratching our heads and wondering about a culture in which universities and their coaches think they are above the law.
To be frank, the situation Tressel was in is milk toast when compared to the circumstances surrounding Rice and Rutgers, and Penn State.
In essence,Tressel lied about being aware of players trading sports memorabilia in exchange for tattoos.
Rice’s actions were cruel and could have been considered criminal had they happened off the court.
He abused his authority.
This wouldn’t be acceptable in any environment in our society. Why is it OK to disregard it just because it happened on a basketball court?
I’d like to think that the consequences would be great if my editor started hurling spiral notebooks at my head and degrading me.
Surely Rutgers’ basketball parents thought their young and impressionable sons were learning leadership, responsibility, public accountability and all the other skills that can be associated with college athletics.
Instead, Rice and Rutgers taught them that it is OK to act like a brute as long as no one is recording it with a camera.
Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth
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