Rutgers University President Robert L. Barchi And Board Of Governors Chair Ralph Izzo Press Conference

Rutgers announces financial settlement with former coach Mike Rice

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Two weeks ago, it was believed that Rutgers would owe former head coach Mike Rice nearly $1.1 million as a result of firing him in the aftermath of a player abuse scandal that included profane language and hitting players with basketballs during practices.

However on Thursday afternoon it was reported that Rutgers president Robert L. Barchi planned to fight the terms of the payout, stating at a meeting on higher education funding that he signed no agreement to pay Rice.

“My personal position – I’m not a lawyer – is that the university was damaged by his actions. My personal position is that his conduct was unethical, not acceptable to the university’s standards, and frankly I’ll have that discussion’’ with school lawyers, Barchi said.

Thursday evening it was reported by the Newark Star-Ledger that the school and Rice settled for $475,000, which is less than half of what Rice was owed for being fired “without cause” and ultimately saves the school a little money in what has been a very costly controversy.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman said she was heartened by Barchi’s testimony but added, “I remain very concerned that Rutgers has doled out so much money to ousted top officials. Consider that based on the in-state tuition and fees listed on the Rutgers website, for every $1 million spent on these deals, the university could have provided 76 students with a scholarship covering full tuition and fees for one year. Rutgers needs to do better. We will be looking more into this situation and we expect a plan to ensure this waste of money at our state university stops.”

With settlements for both Rice and former athletic director Tim Pernetti both handled, the next step for the school should be to hire the replacements for both. Current Los Angeles Lakers assistant Eddie Jordan is the coach many expect to be named Rice’s successor, but there has yet to be an announcement from Rutgers that the two parties have agreed to terms.

Eli Carter and Mike Poole are the most recent players to request a release from their scholarship, and it was reported Thursday that guard Myles Mack may also consider transferring. The longer this saga drags on, the tougher the task gets for whoever the school hires at its head coach.

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

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.