Rutgers University has fired head mens basketball coach Mike Rice. The New Jersey university fired Rice one day after ESPN broadcast a video showing him physically and verbally abusing players.
ESPN aired the disturbing footage on its Outside the Lines program and the video went viral. NBA star LeBron James even tweeted about it, saying Rice’s behavior was unacceptable.
The video initially earned Rice a three-game suspension without pay, a $75,000 fine and an order to attend anger management classes. Rice can be seen in the video yelling expletives, kicking one player and throwing basketballs at the heads of several others.
“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti said in a written statement. “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.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he supports Rice’s firing.
“This was a regrettable episode for the university, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice. It was the right and necessary action to take in light of the conduct displayed on the videotape,” he said.
Rice said Wednesday after he was fired that “there’s no explanation for what’s on those videos because there’s no excuse for it,” according to CNN affiliate WABC.
“I can’t say anything right now except I’m sorry, and there will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse or will there be any excuse,” he said, according to the station. “I’ve let so many people down, my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family — who’s sitting in their house, just huddled around because of the fact that their father was an embarrassment to them.”