(Sports Network) - The situation at Rutgers is what happens when priorities
are out of line.
Shame on the players and any parents who knew what was going on at Rutgers.
And if you don't think some players told their parents about the horrors going
on at basketball practice, you're naive.
This is not to let Mike Rice off the hook one bit. He physically and
verbally abused his players and it led to him being fired as Rutgers'
men's basketball coach on April 3.
Sadly, Rice's dismissal only came after ESPN obtained and broadcast a video of
the out-of-control coach pushing and kicking his players. Also heard on the
video is Rice using gay slurs.
"Coach Rice's abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and
egregiously violate the university's core values," said Rutgers president
Robert Barchi in a statement.
Rice shouldn't be allowed to coach kids or young adults again. His actions can
never be accepted under any circumstances, especially not in an educational
setting. This is a place to teach and nurture young people, not degrade and
Which leads us to the players. It's simply mind-boggling that Rice could have
acted out abuse against them and they simply accepted it as normal.
A scholarship is never more important than your dignity and self-respect.
His behavior wasn't tough love or hard-nose coaching, it was flat out
abuse. Anybody who watches the video finds it difficult to their
eyes. How could people being kicked and pushed -- on a college
campus, no less -- see this with their own eyes and ignore it?
Players could have stopped this coach. It wasn't like this was a single
incident or occurred without witnesses. There would have been no "he-said, he-
said" skepticism. That would have been a tougher situation to prove and would
understandably put players in a vulnerable position.
This was out front, in full view to most around the basketball program.
Furthermore, it was taped.
Plus, these aren't 9-year-olds. These are smart, young men, some in their 20s,
guys who wouldn't accept that treatment from any of their peers.
That's the part that is so scary. You know there are some parents
of players on that team who are guilt-ridden today. They know their son came
home or called them and told them about his abusive coach.
Instead of going to the athletic director or school president, they kept their
mouths closed because the only thing that mattered was their son stay on the
team and get his free college education.
It's where we are as a people. We'll accept almost anything as long as it's on
someone else's dime.
The only thing worse is the idea that athletic director Tim Pernetti and the
school president saw the tape back in November -- given to them by a former
employee -- and only suspended Rice for three games and fined him $75,000.
That's a joke.
It tells you what's wrong with college sports in this country. It's
money over kids. We saw it at the worst level at Penn State in the sex
In this case, Rice's suspension should have sent a red flag to parents. They
should have demanded to see the tape and question why the coach was just being
disciplined and not fired.
And if they couldn't get answers, they should have taken the story to the
media to get attention.
If a player had engaged in such behavior, they would have been thrown off the
team, if not banned from college sports forever.
We all remember 1997 when Latrell Sprewell choked Golden State Warriors coach
P.J. Carlesimo during a practice. Sprewell, who said he couldn't take the
verbal abuse from his coach anymore, was suspended 68 games from the NBA.
Sprewell was wrong and punished just like Rice.
We can only hope this sad situation serves as notice to coaches that this
behavior won't be tolerated.
More importantly, we can hope that other players, from the star player to the
last one on the bench, will never allow this behavior to happen again.
Players shouldn't be afraid that they will be thrown off the team or
blackballed from college sports for telling the truth and stopping abuse
or any wrongdoing.
This abuse from Rice would have stopped long ago if the players simply had
stood up for themselves.
The Sports Network