Rutgers coach fired for video of his kicking, berating players

Rutgers coach fired for video of his kicking, berating players

Rutgers coach fired for video of his kicking, berating players



Posted on April 3, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 3 at 11:04 AM

(ABC NEWS) -- Rutgers University men's basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired by the New Jersey school after ESPN aired video of his shoving and kicking players while berating them with gay slurs.

"Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice," Rutgers athletics tweeted this morning.

Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Pernetti also released a statement:

"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."

The video of Rice, 44, aired Tuesday on ESPN and forced Pernetti to defend his decision not to fire the head coach when the video was originally brought to the school's attention last year.

"I spent more time with that option on whether we should fire Mike or not than any other option," Pernetti said on WFAN Radio Tuesday. "At the same time, the results of the investigation and where we ended up, the determination was made to suspend him."

The video shows numerous clips of Rice at practice hurling basketballs at players, hitting them in the back, legs, feet and shoulders. Rice was also shown pushing players in the chest and grabbing them by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. Rice could be heard screaming obscenities and gay slurs at players.

Pernetti was shown hours of video in late November by a former employee. He suspended Rice for three games a month later, fined him $50,000 and ordered him to attend anger-management classes. At the time, Pernetti didn't elaborate on the details of the suspension.

The video was broadcasted on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" Tuesday night. The video clips were compiled by retired NBA player Eric Murdock during practices from 2010-12. Murdock was hired by Rice as director of player development.

Murdock said Rice's coaching antics caused at least three players to transfer from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

"That's how it was," Murdock said on ESPN. "The verbal abuse, the belittling. I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired immediately on the spot."

Murdock told ESPN he went to Pernetti as early as last summer to inform him of Rice's coaching tactics.

Murdock's lawyer said his client was fired for bringing the video to the attention of Rutgers' officials.

"Mr. Murdock was terminated for having complained of and reported illegal conduct by Mike Rice. As a result, his employment was terminated by Rutgers University," Murdock's attorney, Raj Gadhok, told ESPN in a statement.

Gadhok also said that Murdock plans to sue the university for wrongful termination.

Pernetti told ESPN that Murdock's dismissal was unrelated to the video. Pernetti said Murdock's contract expired and was not renewed because he attended a basketball camp that the university asked him not to attend.

Rutgers and Rice did not respond to ABC News' request for a comment.

Rice, hired by Pernetti three years ago, was 44-51 at Rutgers. Prior to Rutgers, Rice was 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pa.

After the video aired, a who's who of the sports world lashed out at Rice's actions.

"If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that, he would have some real explaining to do and I'm still gone whoop on him afterwards. C'mon," Miami Heat star LeBron James tweeted.

Miami Heat player Ray Allen told ESPN, "I would do everything I could to make sure that coach got fired -- in any sport -- because there's no place for that."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also issued a statement, saying he was "deeply disturbed" by Rice's behavior.

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