So let me get this straight: Seven months ago, Rutgers University was fine with Mike Rice as their basketball coach after learning of a video showing Rice repeatedly physically and verbally abusing his players. It was ONLY after that video went public that they felt the need to fire him. (Scroll down to view the video of Rice abusing his players.)
Rutgers dismissed the coach today following a scathing ESPN broadcast yesterday, showing Rice shoving his players, dragging them by their jerseys, and hurling balls at their heads. So, what changed from seven months ago? Was public outrage the reason? Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti didn’t fire his coach seven months ago, so why now?
Too little, too late, if you ask me. And, Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti should be fired as well.
Where is the University President? Robert L. Barchi is the President of Rutgers, the front page of his website reads, “Rutgers, a great university with an outstanding faculty, is well positioned to seize the opportunities before us. It’s the right time. It’s the right place. It’s time for Rutgers to assume the position of leadership.”
Well, this was an epic failure of leadership at all levels. Tim Prenetti, and likely the school President, concealed the wrongdoings of the coach from the fan base, alumni, and national media for seven months.
Let’s take a look at the mission statement from the athletics department at Rutgers university. “The mission of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics is to reflect, reinforce, and enhance the educational mission of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey by creating an enfironment of excellence where student-athletes will develop the life skills, academic skills and athletic skills that will enable them to earn degrees, become leaders, and win championships. In all areas of its operation, the Division’s student-athletes, coaches, staff and programs shall embody the core values of accountability, respect, integrity, academic achievement, community service, fairness, diversity, and sportsmanship."
A few things jump out at me about this whole sorry mess which show both Rice and Pernetti violated this mission statement. The first one is "accountability." Will Tim Pernetti hold himself accountable for not acting swiftly enough when he first learned about the video of his coach berating players and physically abusing players? He sure didn’t hold Rice accountable for his actions seven months ago, unless you consider a three-game suspension and attending anger management class as "accountable."
"Respect" is another word in their mission statement. Rice violated the respect aspect by using gay slurs toward his players.
"Integrity?" The definition of integrity is “The quality of being honest, and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” People with a strong, solid moral compass don’t conceal behavior this disturbing...furthermore, they don’t partake in such behavior as Mike Rice did.
Finally, "sportsmanship." It’s pretty clear Mike Rice’s actions fly in the face of sportsmanship and the university athletic department’s mission statement.
And while we’re looking at missions statements, let’s talk about the governing body of collegiate athletics, the NCAA. What is their role in this? Did they know about the video? If they did and didn’t act on it, they failed as well. If they didn’t know about it, then they too were asleep at the wheel. The NCAA hammered Penn State for the concealment of child rape from one of their former assistant football coaches. Should the NCAA step in and sanction Rutgers for the concealment of a coach physically and verbally abusing his players?
In cases like this, the NCAA has used the catchall "lack of institutional control" finding to punish programs. Let’s see if they use it. The NCAA will likely argue they don’t delve into university business...but this is not just "university business," but the business of all college sports fans, moms, dads, and future student athletes will designs on attending Rutgers in the future.
I reached out to the University President for comment on this story, but was told by a university spokesman Dr. Barchi is not conducting interviews on this matter. (Big surprise, right?)