By now, you’ve probably heard: Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired over the video that was given to ESPN’s Outside The Lines by Eric Murdoch, a former NBA player and Rutgers staff member.
That video, which can be seen here, depicts Rice acting in an unacceptable manner towards the players he coaches. He pushes them, he tosses them around by the jersey, he fires basketballs at them and, in addition to a constant string of obscenities, Rice also uses a gay slur at one of his players.
It would be surprising if Athletic Director Tim Pernetti were able to keep his job when this is all said and done as well. Back in December, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games — ultimately costing him about a quarter of his yearly salary in fines — as a result of his conduct. Pernetti was made aware of the accusations last summer and saw the video in November. The fact that he didn’t fire Rice means that he determined this to be acceptable behavior.
When you’re a public figure, public perception plays a major role in your job, and right now, the perception of Pernetti and Rice couldn’t be any worse. Everyone, from the Governor of New Jersey to LeBron James, has weighed in, and the opinion is a consensus: neither man’s behavior was in anyway acceptable. Mike Rice didn’t last 24 hours after the video of his practices surfaced, and it may cost his AD his job as well.
Here’s the question that everyone wants to know: just how many coaches run practices like this? Plenty. Among them:
- Bob Knight famously lost his job at Indiana after multiple incidents involving his handling of players.
- Billy Gillispie lost his job as Texas Tech’s men’s basketball coach when a report came out about just how brutal he was in practice.
- Former Utah coach was accused of verbal abuse by at least one player.
- D-II coach John O’Connor resigned after he was caught on tape striking a player to the ground.
- There were even people that Cal men’s basketball coach Mike Montgomery fired for this shove of a player back in January.
(This doesn’t include college football coaches such as Woody Hayes, whose temper cost him his job, or Texas Tech coach Mike Leach who reportedly ordered him to stand in a darkened garage after suffering a concussion.)
The bottom line? This kind of behavior — bullying, intimidation and what borders on physical assault — is no longer acceptable in the coaching ranks. Anyone that feels the need to do so to motivate his players knows full well that he’s risking his job.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
I think it’s also worth noting that both Rice and Gillispie were coaching teams that stunk. Maybe abuse isn’t the best coaching technique, eh?
Basketball coaches can curse with the best of them. Listening to the way they talk to the referees would make George Carlin blush, so imagine how they speak to their players — their subordinates — when the spotlight is gone and ESPN isn’t taping. You can sit in on a Mick Cronin practice and learn five new cuss words a day.
But the physical nature?
Throwing basketballs are players from point blank range?
Kicking them? Pushing them? Tossing them around?
That’s not common. And while I’m sure there are places that it does happen, I wonder how many of those coaches are reconsidering their behavior after watching what has happened with Rice and Gillispie.
Sadly, I have a feeling that quite a few practice tapes bit the dust last night, as well.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.