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Report: ESPN to air video of Mike Rice throwing balls at his players’ heads

Apr 2, 2013, 11:41 AM EDT

Mike Rice AP

Back in December, Mike Rice was suspended for three games and fined $50,000 by Rutgers for what the Athletic Department termed a violation of policy.

At that time, reports surfaced that Rice was being punished for his behavior during practices. His use of profanity and abusive language was a problem, but the real red flag was that Rice reportedly was caught on camera throwing basketballs at the heads of his players.

Rice returned from his suspension, but his troubles may not be over: the Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that a copy of the practice video has been leaked to ESPN and that the network will be airing it on Sunday on Outside The Lines.

From Brendan Prunty:

The Star-Ledger has learned that ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program plans to air the tape as part of a tentatively-scheduled segment this Sunday.

Three individuals with direct knowledge of the tape and its exact contents — profane and abusive language and throwing basketballs at players’ heads — confirmed the network’s plans to broadcast it this weekend, in between the Final Four and the NCAA’s national championship game.

It will be interesting to see the reaction when the contents of this tape is aired. Bullying and abuse from coaches is not something that is taken lightly. It cost Billy Gillispie his job back in September. Depending on how bad the video is, I wonder if this could end up costing Rice his job as well. Coaching transgressions can be looked over when a team is winning. Mike Rice is 44-51 in three years at Rutgers, and 17-39 in Big East play. He has two years left on his contract, the second of which will but the first season for the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten.

Is it worth it to keep him around with this kind of news going public?

It’s also interesting to know how the tapes were leaked. Again, from the Star-Ledger:

All of it stems from tapes brought to the attention of Rutgers and now ESPN, by former Scarlet Knights director of player development, Eric Murdock — according to one of the individuals.

Murdock, who’s contract was not renewed after the 2011-12 season, promised to release the tapes of Rice’s treatment of players if the university did not compensate him. When reached in December, Murdock did not provide further details citing that “there are some legal things going on,” in regards to himself and Rutgers. Murdock has reportedly threatened a lawsuit for unlawful termination, but a search of public records showed no such lawsuit has currently been filed.

What a mess.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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