- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Rutgers officials had already seen the video showing coach Mike Rice shoving, grabbing and throwing basketballs at players during practice and yelling gay slurs at them before it was aired by ESPN on Tuesday.

The school punished Rice in December, suspending him for three games and fining him $50,000.

Now that the video has gone viral, many _ including the governor of New Jersey _ are wondering why Rutgers let Rice keep his job at all.

Athletic director Tim Pernetti said Tuesday that the school was reconsidering its decision to retain the fiery 44-year-old coach.

The videotape, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, prompted scores of outraged social media comments as well as sharp criticism from Gov. Chris Christie and Miami Heat star LeBron James. The head of the New Jersey Assembly called for Rice to be fired.

Pernetti was given a copy of the video in late November by a former employee. In addition to the suspension and fine, Pernetti ordered Rice to attend anger management classes.

In an interview with WFAN Radio in New York on Tuesday, Pernetti said university president Robert Barchi also viewed the tape last fall and agreed with the punishment.

Phone messages left for Rice by the AP were not immediately returned.

But ESPN’s broadcast prompted an outcry.

“Governor Christie saw the video today for the first time and he is obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behavior,” spokesman Michael Drewniak said. “It’s not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people and clearly there are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University.”

James weighed in with a tweet: “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.”

The video shows numerous clips of Rice at practice firing 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.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) called Rice’s conduct “unacceptable not only at our state university, but in all circumstances. It is offensive and unbecoming of our state.”

Mike Rice should no longer be employed by Rutgers University,” Oliver said. “He must go. Meanwhile, the decision not to dismiss him last year needs a complete and thorough review.”

Rice, who was hired by Pernetti three years ago, is 44-51 at Rutgers, including 16-38 in the Big East, after going 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season and 5-13 in the Big East.

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