“A PROGRAM’S NEW HOPE”
The day Mike Rice was hired by Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was hailed by many as the day Rutgers Basketball would be taken seriously as a program. Separating itself from the disastrous regime of previous coach Fred Hill, Rutgers landed one of the hottest coaching names in the country. The son of Portland Trailblazers broadcast announcer Mike Rice SR., Mike Rice led Robert Morris University to 2 consecutive NEC Championships and NCAA tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. A lucky bounce of the ball here or there and they defeat #2 seed Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. (Lost 73-70 in OT, 2010).
Rice brought toughness, discipline, hard-work, and accountability to Rutgers. While the first 2 years at RU were losing seasons he was starting to bring in his players. The feeling was they weren’t far off from being very competitive in the Big East.
Eric Murdock was a New Jersey high school legend. A Bridgewater-Raritan West, NJ high school graduate who later starred at Providence College, Murdock went onto have a solid and lengthy NBA career. More importantly for Rutgers, he was hired in 2010 to become the director of basketball player development. He could now sell top New Jersey players on attending Rutgers. Who better to learn from then an ex NBA player? What could be better then having someone who played at the highest level go into a high school kid’s home and convince them to attend Rutgers? Mike Rice was seemingly making all the right decisions.
“DECEMBER 13, 2012”
Accusations eventually surrounded Rice, the fiery Pittsburgh, PA born native. Shoving and grabbing players. Hurling basketballs at players’ heads, legs, and feet. Kicking players. Screaming obscenities and homophobic slurs aimed towards players. How did this information come about? Did players come out to the news stations? How did this information get leaked?
The whistle-blower? Eric Murdock. Murdock’s contract was not renewed for the 2013 season. He claims it was because he reported the abuse to Tim Pernetti. Many theories arise when discussing the issue. Murdock ended up with videos from previous practices that showed all the horrific actions that Rice did. His attorney presented them to athletic director Tim Pernetti. Rice was suspended 3 games and fined $50,000.
“OUTSIDE THE LINES”
The biggest day in the history of Rutgers University Athletics. The biggest sports story in America was taking place at the Rutgers Athletic Center (THE RAC). It is what every fan of Rutgers had been waiting years for. Rutgers athletics was the lead story on all the T.V. networks. Except for one thing. It was for all the wrong reasons.
On April 2, 2013 ESPN showed the videos of the aforementioned actions Rice was accused of. A national outcry calling for Rice’s termination immediately followed. Mike Rice was fired the next day and Tim Pernetti was subsequently fired soon thereafter. Rice ended up in anger management classes in Houston,TX with his counselor being ex NBA player and coach John Lucas along with a severely tarnished image.
Questions abound the situation. Why did it take Rutgers roughly 4 months to put this video out into the public’s view? According to the attorneys of 2 Rutgers players who pursued a lawsuit regarding the incident, it was because Rutgers tried covering it up in order to avoid bad publicity as it was about to make a move into the Big Ten conference, which Tim Pernetti brokered. Four players immediately transferred and some lawsuits are still pending. On April 23, 2013 Rutgers named Eddie Jordan to become it’s next head coach. In May of 2013, Julie Hermann was appointed as the school’s athletic director.
“GETTING A 2ND CHANCE”
“Hoop Group”, a Neptune, New Jersey based organization that puts on basketball clinics and tournaments throughout the country gave Rice a chance to get back into the sport. His official title was “Director of Team Tournaments”. Rice handled that job for 2 years and by all indications, seems to have his anger issues under control.
“The Patrick School” in Elizabeth, New Jersey is a national high school basketball powerhouse. NBA players Al Harrington, Samuel Dalembert, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Kyrie Irving all attended the high school (formerly named Saint Patrick High School), along with dozens of other Division 1 players. The former coach of the NJ high school power was Kevin Boyle, who left in 2011 to become the head coach of Montverde Academy in Florida.
All Boyle did at his new school was win 3 consecutive high school national championships. D’Angelo Russell (number 2 pick in 2015 NBA Draft, Los Angeles Lakers) and Ben Simmons (LSU, projected number 1 pick in 2016 NBA Draft) are 2 of the stars Boyle has had at Montverde Academy. When Boyle left New Jersey for Florida, his assistant coach Chris Chevannes took over as head coach at the tiny NJ catholic school. A highly respected coach and person, Chevannes is also “The Patrick School” principal.
“BACK ON THE SIDELINE”
The story hit the news on December 6, 2015. Mike Rice, infamous for the scandal that brought Rutgers University to its knees was hired to become a coach at “The Patrick School”. Due to Chevannes principal duties, Rice will be the head coach for the first month of the season and then become a “special assistant” coach for the remainder of the year. It is a bold move by “The Patrick School” to hire someone with the negative past that Rice has had.
Mike Rice is a good basketball coach. Nobody will doubt that. The question is does he deserve another chance at coaching? Can he change the way he behaves while on the sidelines? Will he bring negative attention to the high school he is now coaching at? These are all questions that need to be answered. The only person who can answer these questions? Mike Rice himself.
BELOW IS A CLIP OF MIKE RICE’S FIRST PRACTICE WITH “THE PATRICK SCHOOL”
QUESTIONS FOR THE READER:
- Does Mike Rice deserve another chance at coaching?
- How do you think the situation was handled?
- Did athletic director Tim Pernetti deserve to be fired?
- Do you think Mike Rice will get another coaching job at the college level in the future?
FEEL FREE TO LEAVE ANY COMMENTS REGARDING THIS ARTICLE IN THE COMMENT SECTION. I WILL GLADLY RESPOND TO YOUR ANSWERS.
Article was previously published November 2015