Rutgers University has fired basketball coach Mike Rice this morning, one day after a videotape aired on ESPN showing him shoving, grabbing, and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.
The videotape prompted scores of outraged social media comments as well as sharp criticism from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
With mounting criticism on a state and national level, Rutgers decided to take action on Wednesday, relieving Rice of his duties after three largely unsuccessful seasons at the Big East school. There will be a national search to replace him.
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in November. After hiring independent investigators to analyze the tape, he suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000.
In an interview with New York sports radio station WFAN on Tuesday, Pernetti said university president Robert Barchi also viewed the tape last fall and agreed with the punishment. But ESPN’s broadcast prompted an outcry, led by the governor.
‘‘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.
Even LeBron James of the Miami Heat 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.’’
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer