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How common is Mike Rice’s behavior?

Apr 3, 2013, 10:34 AM EDT


By now, you’ve probably heard: Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired over the video that was given to ESPN’s Outside The Lines by Eric Murdoch, a former NBA player and Rutgers staff member.

That video, which can be seen here, depicts Rice acting in an unacceptable manner towards the players he coaches. He pushes them, he tosses them around by the jersey, he fires basketballs at them and, in addition to a constant string of obscenities, Rice also uses a gay slur at one of his players.

It would be surprising if Athletic Director Tim Pernetti were able to keep his job when this is all said and done as well. Back in December, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games — ultimately costing him about a quarter of his yearly salary in fines — as a result of his conduct. Pernetti was made aware of the accusations last summer and saw the video in November. The fact that he didn’t fire Rice means that he determined this to be acceptable behavior.

When you’re a public figure, public perception plays a major role in your job, and right now, the perception of Pernetti and Rice couldn’t be any worse. Everyone, from the Governor of New Jersey to LeBron James, has weighed in, and the opinion is a consensus: neither man’s behavior was in anyway acceptable. Mike Rice didn’t last 24 hours after the video of his practices surfaced, and it may cost his AD his job as well.

Here’s the question that everyone wants to know: just how many coaches run practices like this? Plenty. Among them:

(This doesn’t include college football coaches such as Woody Hayes, whose temper cost him his job, or Texas Tech coach Mike Leach who reportedly ordered him to stand in a darkened garage after suffering a concussion.)

The bottom line? This kind of behavior — bullying, intimidation and what borders on physical assault — is no longer acceptable in the coaching ranks. Anyone that feels the need to do so to motivate his players knows full well that he’s risking his job.

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I think it’s also worth noting that both Rice and Gillispie were coaching teams that stunk. Maybe abuse isn’t the best coaching technique, eh?

MORE: How an assistant’s departure sealed Rice’s fate

Basketball coaches can curse with the best of them. Listening to the way they talk to the referees would make George Carlin blush, so imagine how they speak to their players — their subordinates — when the spotlight is gone and ESPN isn’t taping. You can sit in on a Mick Cronin practice and learn five new cuss words a day.

But the physical nature?

Throwing basketballs are players from point blank range?

Kicking them? Pushing them? Tossing them around?

MORE: Rights group expresses support for Rice’s firing

That’s not common. And while I’m sure there are places that it does happen, I wonder how many of those coaches are reconsidering their behavior after watching what has happened with Rice and Gillispie.

Sadly, I have a feeling that quite a few practice tapes bit the dust last night, as well.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. yuwannano - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Can’t expect your players to respect you if you act like a d!ck. Who the Hell does he think he is, Bobby Knight?

    • bellweather22 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      Exactly. Inevitably these guys preach discipline and self control….. while they completely lose their cool and freak out when the going gets tough. It’s the do as I say, not as I do. Completely ineffective and terrible leadership. But there are a lot of these jack wagon out there in College and High School. The players don’t tolerate it in the NBA, so it’s gone there. I don’t understand why it’s tolerated with teenagers and college kids, however.

  2. ningenito78 - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Mike Rice deserves to be fired but I’m not going in the same direction with Pernetti. I believe he felt he was doing the right thing attempting to rehabilitate Rice instead of firing him. Obviously now in hindsight he should have just canned him but that’s hindsight. As foolish as it seems now, I believe Pernetti honestly believed he was doing the right thing at the time. You can’t just forget the fact that this video came to light in a situation that can be labeled as blackmail, if not borderline extortion. This Murdoch guy was NOT fired. His contract wasn’t renewed for whatever reason. Yes, that’s a big difference. All that being said, Mike Rice unequivocally deserved to lose his job and he absolutely should have lost it when the video first came out. But Tim Pernetti does not deserve to lose his job. Despite the current reaction there are people that would have chose the path of rehabilitation also, even as dumb as it seems now.

  3. whitdog23 - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    “throwing basketballs ARE players at point blank range” huh??

  4. dutchman1350 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Surprised how many athletes are going after Rice and denouncing abuse, yet the support teammates who abuse their wives…ESPN should look in the mirror too, when they hire criminals.

  5. coryfor3 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    It is “Murdock.”

  6. wtfruthinkn - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Can you imagine coach K acting like that? Or the Zen Master? The Bobby Knight shit doesn’t work anymore. Maybe it did 40 years ago, but it’s dead now.

  7. ermur22 - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Him who???

  8. ndnphx - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    ‘Guarantee you Coach K is not a choirboy in practice. I’ve seen film on Calapari where he goes Mafia on his guys. Etc, etc, etc. Scratch the skin of any one of them, and you’ll find a Rice just underneath the surface.

    Jocks are jocks are jocks are jocks. It is what it is. If Rutgers’ team was in The Final Four, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, and Dickie V would be extolling Rice as a “great motivator”…

  9. bellweather22 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    I disagree that this is uncommon. It happens in High School frequently. The past two coaches at my son’s High School have been heavily verbally abusive, have at times grabbed and pushed players and our current coach has had to be physically restrained from going after a referee and an opposing coach. Still the AD does nothing despite the embarassment he brings to our school. Why? He feels “old school” coaching is fine. He had to put up with it, so why can’t the current batch of kids? Nevermind that it’s wrong & doesn’t work. My kids have both played for him, and mostly take it in stride. For my sons, it’s a matter of pride to stand up to it, ignore it when appropriate, and continue to play their best ball. However, I do think it impacted both of them negatively in that they would second guess their abilities and take safer plays rather than playing their aggressive games. There is that little bit of hesitation that creeps into their games that wasn’t there before. And players are forced with the choice to play their game and damn the torpedos or pull their game back and play not to make mistakes. It’s poor coaching bottom line. You want your players loose and confident. This style of coaching produces neither. Yes, this style is VERY common and needs to be eradicated.

  10. northstarnic - Apr 4, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Help! Is there an editor in the house! (Sheesh)

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