PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Mike Rice says that he’s changed.
The former men’s basketball head coach at Robert Morris and Rutgers has been out of the college game since April 2013, when video surfaced of him physically and verbally abusing his players, leading to his dismissal at Rutgers. Since then, Rice has found other ways to keep himself busy, serving as Director of Team Tournaments for The Hoop Group, as he eagerly awaited his next coaching opportunity.
Finally, this December- more than two-and-a-half years after being fired by Rutgers, Rice found a new home. He’s the head coach of The Patrick School, a powerhouse high school program in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Rice joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Thursday to talk about what he’s learned over the past three years.
“One of my sayings to my players is, ‘What’s the sign of a bad player?'” Rice said. “He makes the same mistake. Same goes for a team, same goes for a coach. I just think you have to learn and grow, and understand that there is a line that you can’t cross.”
He explained that he’s found a way to take his passion and use it in more constructive ways.
“It’s changed me,” Rice said. “The four-letter words that used to come out of my mouth don’t come out of my mouth anymore. There’s just other things that I can use and do to motivate and discipline that I do.”
Rice understands that what he did was completely unacceptable, even if his lapses in judgment were brief.
“You’re not crossing the line,” Rice said. “In those moments, less than one percent of my practices, taking on, putting it in a edit, is a tough thing to happen. Certainly, it’s never an excuse, but those moments, you just don’t have happen. You still have a high level of demand, and you still have that energy and that passion, but you just make sure it’s kind of for good, and you don’t cross that line.”
Rice said that it was “tremendously” tough to be away from coaching, and although he found joy in staying around the game, he’s relieved to be coaching for a reputable basketball program again.
“I just kind of channeled it into other areas, in other basketball areas,” Rice said. “But again, it is my passion, so it’s really, really nice to be back on the sidelines.”
The high school sidelines may be a step down for Rice, but he’s trying not to dwell on that.
“I think it’s a process,” Rice said. “Right now, I’m enjoying, really enjoying, working with my team. We were as high as fourth in the country, and now we’re somewhere in the top 20, and I have 11 Division I players, four of them which are high-majors. So, I’m enjoying where I’m at right now.”
That being said, Rice is still finding ways to maintain his connection to college basketball, and maintains a desire to return to the college ranks, even if he’s not in a rush to do so.
“I’m probably more busy than I was, and have built more relationships over the past two-and-a-half years, than I ever have as a college coach,” Rice said. “So, I’m still in there. I’m still, every day, involved in young student-athletes’ lives, and to me, that’s what drives me. I’m enjoying it. Maybe, in the future, something will happen where I have another opportunity, but right now, I’m really, really happy, and enjoying what I’m doing.”
The interview can be heard here: