Rutgers fires basketball coach over abuse, taunts

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The Rice video drew outrage on campus and all the way to the capital in Trenton, with lawmakers and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supporting the firing at the state’s flagship public university.

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

“Parents entrust their sons to the Rutgers athletic department and the men’s basketball program at an incredibly formative period of their lives. The way these young men were treated by the head coach was completely unacceptable and violates the trust those parents put in Rutgers University. All of the student-athletes entrusted to our care deserve much better.”

Clementi’s family applauded the firing in a statement issued by the foundation named after their son.

“All students require safe environments to learn and reach their full potential, and Coach Rice’s conduct has no place on a campus that is devoted to learning and fostering a sense of community,” it said. “We know Rutgers is such a place, and, like all colleges and universities, it must not tolerate that kind of behavior.”

State lawmakers want explanations from both Pernetti and Barchi on the initial decision not to fire Rice.

Pernetti took responsibility for trying to rehabilitate Rice instead of firing him.

“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,” he said.

Rice, who helped Robert Morris to two NCAA tournament appearances, was one of the hot coaching candidates in the spring of 2010. But he wasn’t able to push Rutgers into the upper echelon of the Big East Conference, and went 44-51. Rice was 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 league.

The firing means Rutgers has now seen its last four coaches dismissed for poor decisions and controversy, rather than simply wins and losses.

Rice was Pernetti’s first major hire after getting the AD’s job.

Pernetti, who has a year left on his contract, said his decision to only suspend Rice was made in part because the coach was remorseful.

The videotape was given to Pernetti by former director of player development, Eric Murdock, who was hired by Rice in 2010. The two had a falling out over Murdock’s appearances at a camp, and Pernetti said Murdock’s contract was not renewed for last season.

A woman who answered the phone at Murdock’s home told the AP he was out. His cell phone did not answer.

Murdock, who said he was fired, compiled the video after losing his job.

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