But his success _ or lack thereof _ on the court is all secondary now. The school is no longer dealing with an issue of wins and losses, but of right and wrong.
“Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior. I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability,” Barchi wrote. “He cannot continue to coach at Rutgers University.”
For the second time in as many days, Christie released a statement on Wednesday, as well.
“This was a regrettable episode for the University, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice,” the statement said. “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.
“As we move on from this incident, I am very optimistic that Rutgers will select a new head coach who not only puts a winning team on the court, but will make everyone proud of the example he sets every day for the young men in his charge.”
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 yelling obscenities at players and using gay slurs.
After landing the position in 2010, Rice moved his family from Pittsburgh to Little Silver. He quickly became part of the fabric of that community, often attending church functions and youth games that his children played in. But on the practice floor, some 30 miles away, obviously, a different person surfaced.
“You have to be always cautious about public reaction, because the reaction the public is having is the same I had when I saw it (the film),” Pernetti told the radio station. “I am factoring everything into what we do going forward.”
“I spent more time with that option on whether we should fire Mike or not than any other option,” he said. “There is a lot of hindsight, 20-20. I made that decision. I am accountable for it. I have to live with it.”
Rice was Pernetti’s first major hire after getting the AD’s job. And after the regular season, in fact, despite the suspension and the losing record, Pernetti announced at the Big East tournament that Rice would return to the Rutgers bench.
“Of course he’s coming back,” Pernetti said at the time. “It’s been an interesting year to say the least, and while I think in one case some of the progress _ and there’s been a lot of progress _ doesn’t show, and that’s in the win-loss column. I would like it to show there. I think everyone in the program would. I know Mike and the players would.
“But you can definitely see us getting better.”