Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mike Rice, Rutgers' Abusive Coach, Fired...

Rutgers University finally fired head basketball coach, Mike Rice, today after pressure from various sources, including Governor Chris Christie. Several instances of verbal and physical abuse, perpetrated by Coach Rice on different players, were video taped and went viral on the internet. The publicity generated from these videos forced Rutgers to take a firmer stand. The initial punishment was a mere three game suspension and $75,000 fine. The Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti, felt that Coach Rice could be “rehabilitated” and these acts were the exception, not the rule. Just great!

Now, aside from the fact that he kicked and also hit players in close range, with basketballs, while screaming at the top of his lungs, Coach Rice also seems to use anti-gay slur words such as, “You f**king fairy ... you're a f**king fa**ot.” The videos from practices held between 2010 and 2012 are very disturbing, but not enough for Rutgers to fire the coach back in December. Instead they chose to downplay the incidents and give the coach a slap on the wrist. However, the bad publicity from all the media attention from the videos being released yesterday has caused them to rethink their decision. I wonder why? The tuition at Rutgers, a state university, varies from approximately $13,000 to $38,000 per year depending on students status. There is a lot of competition out there and all colleges try hard to recruit and entice students to attend. As a parent, I wouldn’t want to pay that kind of money for my child to be abused in any manor. In fact, I don’t want to send my child to any school that condones an instructor or coach or any employee abusing it’s students. Add to that the fact that he used anti-gay slurs at a time when those in positions like his should set an example and promote tolerance and acceptance of others. You would think that, after cases like freshman Tyler Clementi, who attended Rutgers and committed suicide, someone would have conducted sensitivity training for all staff and students, not sweep incidents like these under the rug.

Pernetti, the person claiming responsibility for taking immediate action, dropped the ball by not firing Rice immediately. Now he is in trouble and trying to justify his decision, while the university has been placed in an embarrassing position. An investigation will probably ensue because the president of Rutgers claims he only saw the video yesterday, while Pernietti says the president saw it back in December. If that is the case, many people may be implicated in, what seems to me, to be a cover-up of Rice’s behavior.

So, as I am typing and expressing my anger over this story to my husband, in a very animated way, he nods, acknowledging he knows all about the story. Then he adds, that what he doesn’t understand is why they were so quick to keep Rice on staff because the team isn’t doing well and there is no evidence he is even a good coach. There went my theory that they didn’t want to lose a winning coach.

Now what? We have the Tyler Clementi tragedy, where a gay student was humiliated into committing suicide and a head basketball coach who recklessly abused students and used anti-gay slurs at his players, not knowing or caring if any of them are gay. It leads me to believe that maybe an anti-gay atmosphere, or at least intolerance, may be pervasive on the Rutgers campus. I don’t know why an investigation wouldn’t be done. All the parents should demand one.

P.S. As I listened to the news this morning, guess what I heard?  A very interesting development that backs up my thoughts on the matter. Thirteen professors at Rutgers are demanding that the president, Robert Barchi, step down from his position. They say he knew all about the abuse and anti-gay slurs and did nothing. They allege he promotes an atmosphere of intolerance and took too long to fire Rice. I think we are just scraping the icing off the cake with this story.

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