In Thursday's post I outlined the current scandal happening within the Auburn University football program, but they are far from the only university currently in the midst of controversy. The University of Rutgers basketball team has been in the news recently due to the egregious acts of their recently fired head coach, Mike Rice. Now that we've had some time to absorb the full scope of the situation, let's take a moment to examine it objectively.
Here's what we know: On Tuesday of last week, Outside the Lines aired video tapes showing coach Rice blatantly abusing several members of the Rutgers basketball team. The tapes shows Rice frequently shoving players in the back, kicking them in the behind, and throwing basketballs at them. The tapes also show Rice verbally abusing his players, using many expletives and homophobic slurs. According to the segment, then-AD Tim Pernetti was shown these videos back in December and chose to simply suspend the coach for three games and fine him $50,000. The videotapes were provided to the AD by then-director of basketball operations Eric Murdock, who was subsequently suspended and did not have his contract renewed by the school. He has since filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming that the school chose to suspend him and allow his contract to expire solely due to his concerns about coach Rice's treatment of the players. Murdock has since come under investigation by the FBI. They are investigating whether Murdock is attempting to extort the university, as the university claims that Murdock demanded nearly $1 million dollars from them to keep the videotape out of the public eye, and when they refused, he went to ESPN with the tapes.
It is clear in this situation that Rice absolutely deserved to lose his job. The behavior he exhibited on these tapes clearly warrants his termination as coach, and furthermore, almost certainly guarantees that he will never be the head coach of another major program. No AD will be able, or willing, to stick their head out for this guy, no matter how talented of a coach he may be, after seeing the things that we all saw in the OTL report. It is also clear that AD Tim Pernetti also deserved to lose his job. His decision to merely suspend and fine Rice after seeing the videotapes was, at best, a severe lapse of judgement. At worst, it was a half-hearted attempt to sweep everything under the rug and hope that he would be able to keep all of this from getting out in the public eye. Either way it is an offense worthy of his termination as well.
What is unknown at this time is what role that the university president, Robert Barchi, played in all of this. It has been reported that Barchi was shown the videotape in the same time frame as Pernetti. Barchi denies these reports and claims that he was unaware of the tape until recently and saw it for the first time last week. No matter when Barchi saw the tape, I don't think there is any way that he can come out of this situation with his job intact. If the reports are true and Barchi saw the tapes in December, he is just as culpable as Pernetti in the cover-up, perhaps more-so since he is the president of the university and the superior to Pernetti. If what Barchi says is true and he didn't see the tapes until just recently, that may be even more damning. That would mean that Barchi signed off on the suspension and fining of one of his employees without so much as asking a simple "Why?". If that is the case, that would give the NCAA an open door to come in and hand down sanctions to the university, claiming "a lack of institutional control", such as they did when the Penn State scandal occurred. Either scenario seems to spell the end for Barchi as president of Rutgers University and several faculty members have signed petitions to have him removed from the position.
Coaches have an obligation to get the most they can out of every single one of their players. It is there job to know what they need to do to motivate each player to achieve that goal. The tactics that Rice used were so far beyond what are acceptable motivational tactics that it's bordering on criminal. Several of his players have been so affected by coach Rice's torment that they have been forced to transfer out of Rutgers. Many of them have even been so traumatized that they are now receiving counseling to deal with what they have been through. Coach Rice's actions are nothing short of appalling. The choices that Pernetti made when presented with the situation are equally appalling, but the deceit or ignorance of Barchi just may be the most appalling of them all.
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.