By Jim • 

Practice video of Mike Rice a dark mark

Like a spoiled, brat, driven by frustration and an unrealistic sense of perfection, Rutgers’ men’s basketball coach Mike Rice taunted his players, shoved, pushed, kicked and generally abused the young men he was supposed to be developing as athletes and nurturing as human beings.

But Rice apparently forgot about the “human” part of the equation; in addition to the physical abuse, which included firing basketballs at his charges when he was angry, he employed anti-gay slurs to “motivate” them to step up and be more “manly” on the court.

That combination of bad-boy behavior cost him his $622,000 a year job as the Rutgers’ administration ended his tenure Wednesday by simply punting him out of the Scarlet Knights’ gym for the final time. However, that same administration is also under fire for keeping Rice on as long as they did. He was suspended in December for three games and fined a nice hunk of change, $50,000, for his bullying tactics, which were recorded on a video.

Because of not punishing Rice enough, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti came under fire after the video was leaked by ESPN. There was a public outcry for his job, and he resigned at the end of last week. And just like Rice, he’s due a large sum of money. Pernetti will receive $1.2 million in salary, a car allowance, two more years of health insurance coverage, and Rutgers is throwing an iPad into the parting basket as well.

Looking back, Rice should have been fired on the spot, not prolonged the agony for his players and any parents that were aware of his actions. One reason, critics allege, the administration didn’t act sooner: the embarrassment of firing a coach in midseason could have created a cloud over Rutgers and its sports programs.

The kids should have come first. Abuse in any form is an ugly thing, but kicking, hitting and throwing basketballs at players is as ugly as it gets, along with the sexually-related slurs. There’s no place in sports for this type of behavior by coaches or players, and school officials should have been aware of Rice’s mistreatment of players long before it became public knowledge. Back in December, when that video was viewed, the Rutgers athletic director and school president should have sent him packing.

Oh, by the way, the fired coach is due a $100,000 bonus for finishing the 2012-13 season. Apparently, that was written into his five-year contract.

Now, newly fired for your abusive actions, where you going to go, Mike?

Rice certainly won’t be picked up by any school as quickly as Tubby Smith, who just a few days after losing his job at Minnesota, was hired by Texas Tech to coach the Red Raiders. But Smith has done well at a number of schools prior to his firing at Minnesota, including a national championship at Kentucky in 1998. As for the administration at Rutgers, the athletic director is already gone, but the school president should be out as well. There’s got to be a bottom line somewhere, and in this case, it lies in the Rutgers administration building.

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