Rutgers Basketball Coach Mike Rice Shoved, Berated Players in Leaked Video
Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice made physical contact with, threw basketballs toward, and screamed obscenities and homophobic slurs at his players in practice video obtained and aired by ESPN’s ‘Outside The Lines’ on Tuesday. (View clips of the video above.) Rutgers’ athletic director Tim Pernetti suspended Rice earlier this season after viewing the video in December, but Rice’s actions appeared more serious than Peretti made known at the time of the suspension.
Three players have since transferred from the school because of Rice, according to Eric Murdock, a former director of player development for Rutgers who played in the NBA for nine years. Murdock alleged that he was terminated from Rutgers in July for having reported Rice’s conduct and is pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Murdock was particularly upset about how Rice treated forward Gilvydas Biruta of Lithuania, who transferred to Rhode Island prior to last season. Murdock and Biruta alleged that Rice’s criticism became personal toward the foreign-born player. Biruta said it was his reason for transferring.
“Bullying players made him feel better,” Murdock said of Rice. “If he made a kid feel miserable, he was able to sleep at night better, even though the kid is going the other way and he’s not going to be as productive. … He has real anger-management issues. He can’t control his temper. … I can’t believe that anywhere else in the country it is worse than this — it’s the absolute worst.”
Some former players contacted by ESPN reported having no issue with Rice’s conduct, but Murdock alleged that other athletes were deeply disturbed. Murdock also speculated that Pernetti was protecting Rice.
“This is Pernetti’s big hire — he wants this guy to be successful,” Murdock said. “I have to believe that 99 percent of the ADs would have fired him — for him to only suspend him three games and $50,000 you think it’s significant — but watching the video you’d think it was not nearly enough of a penalty.”
Pernetti said that Rice served the suspension and had addressed his behavioral issues.