This story was written before Mike Rice was fired…
What Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice did is nothing new. Happens all the time. Every day. All across the country. Well, the throwing of basketballs at players may not be real common. Over and over, players report what is happening. Parents report what is happening. Member of the personnel report what is happening. Unfortunately, all too often, the consequences tend to be the same. The coach is brought into the office to be “talked to.” Sometimes there is a suspension. Sometimes there is a loss of pay. Very rarely is a coach fired.
Just a few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about this very common style of coaching. Profanity. Yelling. Belittling. Verbal abuse. I never understood it and never will. And this is coming from a female who played sports all through middle and high school. To me, it is unacceptable. However, I find it to be very acceptable among males. I always hear, “that is just how it is.” That might be how it is but it does not make it right. No one, absolutely no one, deserves to be talked to as if they are not worthy of even being on this Earth. No one deserves to be called names all because they did not meet someone’s standards at that particular moment. No one deserves to be called anything less than the name that is on their birth certificate.
What Rice did was wrong. So wrong. So wrong on so many levels. How he still has a job is just baffling. While I do not condone the use of profanity and I do not think yelling at players every minute is very effective, I understand that that is the culture, especially in men’s sports. Men are taught to be tough and somewhere along the way, the use of profanity and yelling became synonymous with effective coaching. However, some things just should not be accepted. Throwing basketballs at players. Pushing players. kicking players. Calling players f****** is UNACCEPTABLE.Again,how Rice still has a job is just baffling. I am befuddled. Is this the new standard? Is this how we think young men should be treated? Is it now ok for coaches to hurl basketballs, at close range, at players all in the name of the game?
As I watched SportsCenter today and learned more about the situation, I found myself becoming increasingly angry with the way the situation was handled. Former Rutgers Director of Player Development, Eric Murdock, met with Rutgers Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti as early as last summer to discuss what had been taking place at the practices. At that time there were no disciplinary actions taken against Rice and soon thereafter, Murdock was fired. In December, Murdock provided Pernetti and Rutgers officials with video footage of Rice physically and verbally abusing players. With concrete evidence in hand, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000. He was not relieved of his duties because this was a “first offense.” I bet you are laughing, just like me.
What if the roles were reversed? What if the player was the one doing the kicking, screaming and throwing basketballs? Do you think he would still be playing basketball at Rutgers? No. Ask Latrell Sprewell what happens to players who put their hands on coaches. Now I am no psychologist but I am willing to bet that there are players, past and present, that have suffered emotionally and mentally as a result of Rice’s actions. Sadly, we all know many players will not admit it because it makes them look “weak” and there is no room to be weak in college basketball. Thankfully, there has been one player, Gilvydas Biruta, willing to step up to the plate and has admit that Rice’s behavior was the reason he transferred. I guarantee he is not the only one suffering. Where there is smoke, there is fire.
Today, players emotional, physical and mental well being need to be what is most important. The past actions of Pernetti have spoken loud and clear: his main concern is for her coach. That was until today when ESPN’s Outside The Lines broke the story. In response to the videos and interview with Murdock that was aired, Pernetti defendedhis actions only to later say he is now mulling over what is best for Rutgers basketball. Conincidence? I think not. It is amazing what bad press will do for you. Rice wore out his welcome years ago(this started in 2010) and it is past time for him to be relieved of his duties. Show these players that they matter.And while they are at it, relieve Pernetti of his duties as well. Those young men deserve to be under the tutelage of someone who is concerned about them, first and foremost.
Until next time….TOODELLS.