Rutgers head coach Mike Rice fired for abusing players

Mike Rice, left, with Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti
Mike Rice, left, with Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti

Rutgers University’s athletic department announced Wednesday morning that the program has fired hothead head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice as mounting national criticism mounted over his rampant physical abuse of his players — to the point where even congressman and senators called for his ouster.

“Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice,” the athletic department announced via Twitter.

The firing comes almost immediately after the airing of a damning video from ESPN which showed video of Rice throwing basketballs at players, grabbing and shoving them, and using expletives and homophobic language (view the video below).

“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said in a 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.”

Despite his mea culpa, some are asking for Pernetti to be fired as well for such a lenient punishment, including ESPN’s Skip Bayless. Stephen A. Smith of the network’s “First Take” is calling for Pernetti to receive at least a substantial suspension for keeping Rice despite his foul behavior.

Rutgers suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000 last December as punishment for at least three year’s worth of actions toward his players.

At the time, Pernetti and Rutgers president Robert Barchi – a former provost at the University of Pennsylvania – declared the punishment to be sufficient. The ESPN report, though, cast Rice’s actions in a new light. Whereas Rice’s past actions drew criticism mainly from within the Northeast corridor, on Tuesday Rutgers found itself subjected to national criticism.

In addition to calls for Rice’s dismissal from across the college basketball community, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and state senate president Stephen Sweeney called for Rice to be fired.

Take a look at the video showing Rice’s rampant abuse of players that was obtained from ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

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