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.
After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.
Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.
The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.
Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.
With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.
As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.
At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.
GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.
Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.
University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.
Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.
In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”
Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.
STORRS, Conn. (AP) Azura Stevens, the leading scorer and rebounder for Duke, has decided to transfer to UConn.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore center from Raleigh, North Carolina will sit out next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining when the 2017-18 season begins the school announced Saturday.
Stevens averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game and was named to the ACC’s all-conference first team.
She was second in the league both scoring and rebounding.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday that he normally doesn’t get involved in transfer situations, but Stevens convinced him that Storrs would be the right place for her going forward.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Forward V.J. Beachem has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will return to Notre Dame for his senior season.
Beachem made the announcement Sunday night on Twitter, writing that he was thankful for the opportunity to experience the NBA draft process and invitations to work out for teams, “but now I’m ready to lead [Notre Dame]. #IMBACK.”
The 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward finished third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.0 points and 3.9 rebounds as the Irish finished 24-12. He was at his best in the NCAA Tournament, when he averaged 17.5 points as the Irish advanced to the Elite Eight for a second straight year.
Coach Mike Brey sent a Tweet saying he was thrilled Beachem will return.