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.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.