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.