PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Rutgers has fired basketball coach Mike Rice after a videotape aired showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and using gay slurs during practice.
The videotape, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, has prompted scores of outraged social media comments as well as sharp criticism from Gov. Chris Christie. The head of the New Jersey Assembly called for Rice to be fired.
Rice is a former head coach at Robert Morris University. 93-7 The Fan’s Colin Dunlap reported earlier Wednesday morning that officials were meeting with Rice, and that he would be fired.
With mounting criticism on a state and national level, the school 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 WFAN Radio 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 himself.
“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.”
The Miami Heat’s 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.”