After less than a day of deflecting a storm of bad press surrounding head basketball coach Mike Rice's coaching methods, Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti has confirmed that Rice has been fired.
Rutgers Athletics said Rice's termination was based on the recent "issues" as well as "a review of previously discovered issues."
“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Pernetti said, in a prepared 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.”
On Tuesday, a video surfaced of Rice yelling offensive language and shoving and kicking players during basketball practice.
Rutgers president Robert L. Barchi said Rice's actions "egregiously violate" Rutgers' core values as a diverse and welcoming school, and the decision to terminate Rice was his and Pernetti's, jointly.
Barchi said that when the video came to Pernetti's attention in the fall, the university sought legal counsel, hired an independent investigator, and suspended Rice for three games and fined him $75,000. Rice was ordered to attend anger management counseling, and was monitored at practices upon returning from his suspension.
"Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior. 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," Barchi said, in a prepared statement.
Rutgers showed the tape to reporters on Tuesday after learning that ESPN planned to air footage of the tape this week.
The video covers practices that occurred between 2010 and 2012, according to a report on ESPN.com
"Everyone in New Jersey is deeply offended by Mike Rice’s inexcusable actions against student athletes who he is highly paid to mold and shape," Sen. Republican Leader Thomas Kean said in a prepared statement on Wednesday. "In addition to being tasked with winning basketball games, Mr. Rice is paid by the public to foster the growth of student athletes and the overall success of New Jersey’s flagship university."
Both Kean and Sen. Barbara Buono called for Rice's immediate firing.
"I found Mike Rice's behavior deplorable and it demands his immediate dismissal," Buono said in a prepared statement on Wednesday. "Athletics are a critical part of the Rutgers community and its coaches have a long tradition of cultivating integrity and respect. They are supposed to be role models to our young men and women and this kind of abusive behavior cannot be tolerated."
"If there is no compelling reason why Mr. Rice was allowed to continue coaching young people, then he should be immediately fired," Kean said.
Gov. Chris Christie's press office issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the tape, stating that the governor was "deeply disturbed" by what he saw.
"Governor Christie saw the video today for the first time and he is obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behavior," said Christie's press secretary Mike Drewniak in a prepared statement on Tuesday. "It's not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people and clearly there are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University.”
The video came from the attorneys of former Rutgers director of player development Eric Murdock, who plans to sue Rutgers, claiming he was fired in 2012 for complaining about Rice's behavior, according to the NJ.com report.
Rice declined comment on Tuesday when approached by a Star-Ledger reporter at his home in Little Silver.