In 2014 the Big Ten will welcome Rutgers University into the conference, in a move that, unfortunately, will also bring Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti.
An ESPN “Outside the Lines” segment that aired Tuesday showed Rice bullying players during basketball practices from 2010-2012. The coach was shown shoving players, throwing basketballs at them while they were not looking, insulting players with expletives and perhaps most offensive of all, using derogatory slurs regarding sexual orientation.
According to “OTL,” tapes of the harsh practices were brought to the attention of Pernetti last summer, but nothing was done. Months later, in December 2012, an internal investigation was launched into the allegations. The investigation only resulted in a $50,000 fine and an unpaid three-game suspension for Rice.
Pernetti is also on record saying he never considered firing Rice, who finished the season with a losing 15-16 record.
To never even consider firing a coach who physically and emotionally abuses his athletes is outrageous.
To call athletes fa–ots and keep Rice at his job is unbelievable, and furthermore, that the athletic director knew about it and let Rice stay makes the situation that much worse. Clearly neither of them has a proper understanding of how to treat individuals, let alone the young minds of those players they have been trusted to care for.
To allow Rice to continue to coach seemingly condones the violent behavior toward students and the negative slurs often used toward the gay community that were hurled at his players.
Perhaps most troubling, Rutgers is no stranger to dealing with acceptance, or lack thereof, of gay individuals. In September 2010, Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide, and it is believed he did so due to bullying from others about his homosexuality. The case drew national attention and even resulted in criminal charges being filed against Clementi’s roommate for invasion of privacy.
Clearly the athletics department at Rutgers did not learn a lesson from this incident.
The Big Ten, or at the very least Ohio State athletics, has higher standards than the way these two men have behaved and have been allowed to behave.
Both OSU athletic director Gene Smith and President E. Gordon Gee have talked, before the Rutgers incident, about inclusion and acceptance of all athletes and students at OSU.
“Inclusion is something I’ve always believed in,” Smith said in an exclusive interview with The Lantern on March 12. “I’ve always believed that a diverse environment allows you to have different thoughts and different views and ultimately you get the best out of that environment.”
“I believe that athletes, non-athletes (whatever), we want to be a university that is very friendly to all of our students and our faculty and staff,” Gee said while visiting The Lantern on March 25.
Rutgers needs to let Pernetti and Rice go. A three-game suspension in December means nothing to a basketball program and is insulting to the memory of Clementi. Their behavior is not the kind that should be allowed into Big Ten athletics.