Rutgers fires men’s basketball coach Mike Rice


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One day after footage of his behavior during practices was shown on the ESPN program Outside the Lines, Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired by the school as originally reported by multiple outlets.

In three seasons at the school Rice, formerly the head coach at Robert Morris, posted an overall record of 44-51 but managed to go just 16-38 in Big East play.

Despite the lack of on-court success it’s the video footage of abusive behavior in practices that led to Rice’s ouster.

Allegations of abusive behavior made by former Rutgers director of basketball development Eric Murdock, whose contract was not renewed by the school following the 2011-12 season. In the video shown by ESPN Rice is seen throwing basketballs at players and using profane language, including a homophobic slur.

MORE: Rice isn’t alone in this kind of behavior

After originally viewing the tapes athletic director Tim Pernetti suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training.

Once the public saw the video and realized the severity of Rice’s actions it became clear to many that the original punishment did not fit.

“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” said Pernetti in a statement released by the school. “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.”

MORE: How an assistant coach’s departure sealed Rice’s fate

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie released a statement on Tuesday that he was “deeply disturbed” by the footage,  and other state politicians called for Rice to be fired.

The question now is whether or not more changes are made within the athletic department given the initial punishment.

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Yet there’s no doubt that this is another black eye for a program that’s had its share of issues over the last decade.

Rice would be the fourth consecutive Rutgers men’s basketball coach to exit under a cloud of controversy. Kevin Bannon left in disgrace in 2001 after forcing his players to shoot naked free throws as part of a practice contest. Gary Waters’ fairly successful tenure ended shortly after he missed a 2006 game when a snowstorm trapped him at Kent State, his previous school, where he was being honored. Fred Hill was bought out in 2010 for insubordination after he made a scene at a Rutgers baseball game.

In the last year five players have transferred out of the program. At the end of last season Austin Carroll (American) and Gilvydas Biruta (Rhode Island) left, with Malick Kone, Vincent Garrett and Jerome Seagears announcing their intentions to leave at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

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

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?