Rutgers coach Mike Rice fired after explosive video

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers fired basketball coach Mike Rice Wednesday after a video aired showing him shoving, grabbing, and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.

The video, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, prompted sharp criticism from Governor Chris Christie, and the head of the New Jersey Assembly called for Rice to be fired.

With mounting criticism on a state and national level, the school decided to take action, relieving Rice of his duties after three largely unsuccessful seasons at the Big East school. There will be a national search to replace him.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in late November by an ex-employee. After hiring independent investigators to analyze the tape, he suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000, and ordered him to attend anger management classes. University president Robert Barchi signed off on that punishment.

But in a Wednesday e-mail, Rutgers referred to new information and ‘‘a review of previously discovered issues’’ as the reasons for Rice’s termination.

‘‘I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,’’ Pernetti said. ‘‘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.’’

Less than an hour after the dismissal, Barchi released a statement.

‘‘Rutgers has a long and proud history as one of the nation’s most diverse and welcoming academic institutions. Coach Rice’s abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university’s core values,’’ the statement said.

‘‘When video excerpts of basketball practices were reviewed last fall by athletic director Tim Pernetti, he immediately notified me and sought the advice of internal and outside counsel. The university hired an independent investigator to look into this matter thoroughly. Based on the external investigator’s findings and recommendations, Tim and I agreed that Coach Rice should be suspended, penalized $75,000 in fines and lost salary, ordered to undergo anger management counseling, and put on notice that his behavior would be closely monitored. Tim Pernetti also made it clear to Coach Rice that there would be zero tolerance for additional infractions. Tim kept me fully apprised and I supported his actions.’’

Thirteen Rutgers faculty members are demanding the resignation of Barchi.

The professors’ two-page letter to the Rutgers Board of Governors and Board of Trustees calls inexcusable Barchi’s handling of Rice’s dealings with student athletes.

Rice has stayed in his home in Little Silver, N.J., most of the week. His children did not leave for school Wednesday.

‘‘As I stated three months ago after I watched the video how deeply regrettable those actions [were]. I also stated I was going to try to work on changing. I think I’ve accomplished a lot of that,’’ Rice said Wednesday. ‘‘I can’t say anything except I’m sorry and there will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse or there will be any excuse.

‘‘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 their father was an embarrassment to them. It’s troubling, but at some time maybe I’ll try to explain it. But right now there’s no explanation for what’s on those films.”

Christie released a statement Wednesday. “This was a regrettable episode for the University, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice,” the statement said.