Rutgers Fires Basketball Coach

Many of my readers know that I’m a big college basketball fan. Rutgers has never had much of a basketball program; their biggest claim to fame is having had Jim Valvano as their coach before he went to NC State and shocked the world by beating Phi Slamma Jamma in 1986. And now they’ve fired their coach for some truly appalling behavior:

Rutgers University fired men’s basketball coach Mike Rice on Wednesday after video of him abusing players that had led to his suspension in December went public, sparking national outrage.

The New Jersey school’s athletic department announced Rice’s termination on its Twitter page, a day after ESPN aired video in which Rice shoves players, hurls basketballs at them and uses profane language and gay slurs.

“Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice,” the posting read.

They had a chance to do this before. The school has had this tape for a long time and they didn’t fire him before, only suspended him. But I’ll give Rice some credit for issuing a genuine apology:

Reached outside his home by ABC’s New York affiliate, Rice was contrite.

“As I stated three months ago, after I watched the video, how deeply regrettable those actions … I also stated I was going to try to work on changing, and I think I’ve accomplished a lot of that,” Rice said Wednesday before the official announcement of his firing. “Can’t say anything right now, except, ‘I’m sorry.’ There will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse, or will there be any excuse. I’ve let so many people down — my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family who’s sitting in their house, huddled around because of the fact their father was an embarrassment to them.”

That sounds like actually taken responsibility and apologizing. There’s no “it was taken out of context” or “I apologize to anyone who might be offended.” A genuine “I screwed up badly, I’ve hurt a lot of people and I’m sorry.” How about that.

13 comments on this post.
  1. dean:

    That sounds like actually taken responsibility and apologizing. There’s no “it was taken out of context” or “I apologize to anyone who might be offended.” A genuine “I screwed up badly, I’ve hurt a lot of people and I’m sorry.” How about that.

    Guess participation in sports really does teach character.

  2. tubi:

    And now the AD’s out as well. He says he wanted to fire Rice in November but the school wouldn’t let him. He wishes he’d overridden them on that. But the school president says he never saw the video in November, only last week for the first time.

    Ughs all around, I say.

  3. democommie:

    Contrast what happens with an athletic coach running a mediocre college team and the brouhaha surrounding that asshat at Rochester U.

    Are they the same? No, not even close, but in both cases, something had to be done after it was made public. What Rice did is actionable against him AND the school, if a student decides to sue. What Landsburg did may not be actionable, if it is, he will be gone, too.

  4. Kengi:

    By letting Rice finish the season, he walks away with a $100,000 bonus. I’m sure that had nothing at all to do with not firing him until now.

  5. tomp:

    It couldn’t possibly be that he’s sorry because he got fired?

  6. tommykey:

    And then you have all of those right wingers decrying the firing, as if being an abusive sports team coach was the epitome of patriotism in this country.

  7. grumpyoldfart:

    I’ll give Rice some credit for issuing a genuine apology

    I’ll bet the key phrases of that apology were written by Rutger’s lawyers and Rice had to cop it sweet.

    As soon as he gets his next job he will regard himself as vindicated and go right back to abusing his players. That’s what control freaks do.

  8. jws1:

    It was in 1983, not 1986.

  9. Wes:

    I’m often cynical when it comes to apologies, but this does actually sound genuine to me.

    “Can’t say anything right now, except, ‘I’m sorry.’ There will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse, or will there be any excuse. I’ve let so many people down — my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family who’s sitting in their house, huddled around because of the fact their father was an embarrassment to them.”

    He definitely deserved to be fired, and hopefully he learned something from this experience. But at the same time, I find it very difficult to feel sorry for a guy who kicked and shoved his players and called them faggots. It’s not impossible for him to earn my forgiveness, but he’s gonna have to show more than just an honest apology. He’s gonna have to show he’s really changed how he coaches. Until he does, he’s an asshole.

  10. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :):

    I suppose whoever brought this to the public and administration’s attention is an “anti-intellectual,” “cowardly” “bully” too?

  11. Dr X:

    Hannity and Malking upset over firing. We got whipped and worse as children and see we turned out okay.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9PVyNioZXxE

    Reduced to defending, assault, battery and anti-gay bigotry. Later, when some black, Rutgers university player is accused of battery, they will be appalled by those black athletes whose violence is excused by liberals.

  12. gardengnome:

    Grumpyoldfart you are a cynicaloldfart. But you’re probably right!

  13. democommie:

    It turns out that the Rutgers AD had the tape at least three and a half months ago but didn’t watch it (he claims) or he WOULD have certainly taken some action.

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