Rutgers Coach Mike Rice Fired for Video of His Kicking, Berating Players

Rice was fired by Rutgers after video of his belittling players surfaced.

April 3, 2013, 5:57 AM

April 3, 2013— -- Rutgers University fired men's basketball coach Mike Rice this morning after ESPN aired video of his shoving and kicking players while berating them with gay slurs.

"Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice," Rutgers Athletics tweeted this morning.

Rice, 44, apologized for his behavior today in an interview outside his house in Little Silver, N.J.

"I've let so many people down: my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family," Rice told WABC-TV.

"There's no explanation for what's on that film. There's no excuse for it. I was wrong. And I want to tell everybody who's believed in me that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I've caused."

Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Pernetti released a statement today, saying, "I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice. 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."

The video caused outrage across social media after it was aired, with thousands, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and NBA star LeBron James, chiming in.

"If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that he would have some real explaining to do and I'm still gone whoop on him afterwards! C'mon," James tweeted Tuesday.

Christie said he supported the school's action.

"This was a regrettable episode for the University, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice," he said in a statement today. "It was the right and necessary action to take in light of the conduct displayed on the videotape."

The video of Rice aired Tuesday on ESPN and forced Pernetti to defend his decision not to fire the head coach when the video was originally brought to the school's attention last year.

"I spent more time with that option on whether we should fire Mike or not than any other option," Pernetti said on WFAN Radio Tuesday. "At the same time, the results of the investigation and where we ended up, the determination was made to suspend him."

The video shows numerous clips of Rice at practice hurling basketballs at players, hitting them in the back, legs, feet and shoulders. Rice was also shown pushing players in the chest and grabbing them by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. Rice could be heard screaming obscenities and gay slurs at players.

Pernetti was shown hours of video in late November by a former employee. He suspended Rice for three games a month later, fined him $50,000 and ordered him to attend anger-management classes. At the time, Pernetti didn't elaborate on the details of the suspension.

The video was broadcasted on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" Tuesday night. The video clips were compiled by retired NBA player Eric Murdock during practices from 2010-12. Murdock was hired by Rice as director of player development.

Murdock said Rice's coaching antics caused at least three players to transfer from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

"That's how it was," Murdock said on ESPN. "The verbal abuse, the belittling. I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired immediately on the spot."

Murdock told ESPN he went to Pernetti as early as last summer to inform him of Rice's coaching tactics.

Murdock's lawyer said his client was fired for bringing the video to the attention of Rutgers' officials.

"Mr. Murdock was terminated for having complained of and reported illegal conduct by Mike Rice. As a result, his employment was terminated by Rutgers University," Murdock's attorney, Raj Gadhok, told ESPN in a statement.

Gadhok also said that Murdock plans to sue the university for wrongful termination.

Pernetti told ESPN that Murdock's dismissal was unrelated to the video. Pernetti said Murdock's contract expired and was not renewed because he attended a basketball camp that the university asked him not to attend.

Rutgers and Rice did not respond to ABC News' request for a comment.

Rice, hired by Pernetti three years ago, was 44-51 at Rutgers. Prior to Rutgers, Rice was 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pa.

After the video aired, a who's who of the sports world lashed out at Rice's actions.

Miami Heat player Ray Allen told ESPN, "I would do everything I could to make sure that coach got fired -- in any sport -- because there's no place for that."

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