Amid abuse backlash, Rutgers fires coach Mike Rice

12:29 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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Mike Rice (Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

(USA Today) -- Rutgers University has fired coach Mike Rice less than 24 hours after ESPN's Outside the Lines aired video footage of Rice physically abusing players, the school announced on Wednesday morning.

"Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice," the school statement read.

Rice met with athletic director Tim Pernetti on Wednesday.

COLUMN | Rice deserved to be burned

"I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice," Pernetti said in a statement. "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."

The footage, revealed by former director of player development Eric Murdock, featured Rice throwing basketballs at a player's head, kicking a player and using a homophobic slur directed at a player.

Rice, in a WABC broadcast aired on ESPN, called his actions "deeply regrettable."

"I can't say anything right now except I'm sorry," Rice said on an ESPN broadcast. "There is never going to be a time when I use any of that as an excuse. ...I've let so many people down - my players, administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family sitting huddled around just because their father was an embarrassment to them. It's troubling. At some time maybe I'll try to explain it. But right now ... there is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I'm going to tell everybody who believed in me that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I've caused."

Rice was suspended for three games in December and fined $50,000 after athletic department officials saw video footage of abuse. Pernetti said he spent "hundreds of hours" talking to those involved in the program to determine what happened.

The backlash on Tuesday was widespread. The National College Players Association (NCPA) released a public statement calling for Rice's termination. LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates were angered by the footage as well, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was "deeply disturbed" by what happened at the state school.

The timing of the abuse footage and Rice's firing could not have come at a worse time with the NCAA celebrating its 75th anniversary of the NCAA tournament.

(USA Today)

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