Video of Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing players aired Tuesday afternoon on ESPN's Outside the Lines, footage that included Rice whipping a basketball at a player's head, kicking a player and using a homophobic slur directed at a player.
Rice was suspended for three games in December and fined $50,000 after athletic department officials saw video footage of abuse. Eric Murdock, a former director of player development whose contract was not renewed, brought the footage and abuse to light. He also told ESPN that the abuse led to multiple players transferring to other schools.
" To witness that video and see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, firing balls at players at point-blank range, the verbal abuse, the belittling. Yeah, I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired," Murdock said on ESPN.
Rutgers athletics director Tim Pernetti said he spent "hundreds of hours" talking to those involved in the program to determine what happened.
He said the punishment levied in December was appropriate because it was Rice's "first offense." Pernetti defended his decision to keep Rice as his basketball coach, and he did not give any indication Tuesday that he might reconsider that.
"Honestly, we've dealt with this issue," Pernetti told local reporters on Tuesday after allowing them to watch the clips before ESPN aired the video. "When I became aware of this in November, within 24 hours we had the investigation underway. Now I became aware of it in a meeting. I took the DVD with me. I met with Mike later in the day. We started the investigation. Within that two-week period we made the determination on what we were going to do. I would tell you that all options were on the table at that time.
"Look, there's going to be backlash anytime you deal with a situation like this. I think that Mike is in the most difficult position of anybody because he is the focal point of the story. But I don't think we could've spent any more time investigating the matter than we did. What I did ask the investigators to do was the investigate but not make a recommendation on sanctions. I made that decision on my own. Once we had come to a conclusion I met with the investigators and asked them for input on the penalty. And they felt very much that it was in line with what was discovered over the course of the investigation."
Pernetti said the practice incidents had occurred over a three-year period, featuring a lot of clips from Rice's first season. Rutgers did not compile the video.
When Pernetti was asked why using a gay slur at a player and throwing basketballs at players wasn't a fireable offense, Pernetti said: "I'll just tell you this about certain words that were used, they're unacceptable and if you use them once it's once too many. At a place like Rutgers - one of the most diverse universities in the world, which we pride ourselves on, it's absolutely unacceptable."
The video and reaction to it is picking up steam on social media with the hashtag #rutgers and mike rice trending late Tuesday afternoon following the airing of the video.
Miami Heat star, LeBron James (@KingJames )tweeted his reaction saying:
If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that he would have some real explaining to do and I'm still gone whoop on him afterwards! C'mon
Additional coverage and reaction from USAToday
Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
Contributing: Keith Sargent of the Home News Tribune, Gannett properties.