Mike Rice

Rutgers head coach Mike Rice suspended three games, fined $50,000 for inappropriate behavior (UPDATED)

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Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti announced on Thursday afternoon that the school was suspending head coach Mike Rice three games without pay and fining him $50,000 due to a violation of athletic department policy.

Inappropriate behavior and language were the reasons cited by Rutgers, and according to Brendan Prunty of the Newark Star-Ledger, the school found out that Rice threw basketballs at players’ heads during a practice in either his first or second season on the job.

“It’s a difficult situation, certainly,” Pernetti said during a conference call on Thursday according to the Star-Ledger. “I was made aware of some things in the last couple of weeks. We commenced a pretty thorough and lengthy investigation and this was the result of that investigation.

“There was obviously some things that are not to the Rutgers standard that we evaluated.”

Associate head coach David Cox will coach the Scarlet Knights (7-2) in games against UAB, Howard and Rider. Rice will return for the team’s Big East opener January 2 at Syracuse.

In addition to Pernetti’s statement Rice released a statement of his own:

“Since becoming a coach at the age of 21, I have taken great pride in not only helping young men learn the game of basketball but also in teaching them about character, respect and hard work,” said Rice. “To the extent that my conduct has ever been in contrast with those principles, I have failed my players – and myself – and I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the terms of my suspension. I will learn from my mistakes and I will become a better coach, teacher and role model.

“I sincerely apologize to our players, both past and present; to our incredible assistant coaches and staff; to President Barchi, the Board of Governors and Director of Athletics Tim Pernetti for their belief in me; to the University faculty, staff and student body who represent the greatness of RU and to our Scarlet Knight fans who provide so much support to our teams,” Rice continued. “My commitment to becoming a better man and coach is only matched by my passion to make Rutgers basketball a great source of pride for the community.”

Rice has been one of the more passionate coaches in college basketball for some time now, dating back to his years spent at Robert Morris where he led the Colonials to two NCAA tournament appearances.

But clearly Rutgers has seen something that needs changing, hence the suspension. And it isn’t as if the program hasn’t been down this road with a head coach before, as Fred Hill eventually lost his job for behavioral reasons.

Hill got in trouble at a Rutgers baseball game (his father Fred Hill Sr. has led the Rutgers program for nearly three decades), ignoring Pernetti’s orders to not attend a series between the Scarlet Knights and Pittsburgh. The end result was Hill being fired, opening the door for Rutgers to hire Rice.

With the school’s past dealings with its head coach’s behavior in mind, it’s good for both Rutgers and Rice (even though he’s lighter in the wallet as a result) to address this situation now.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.