Grabbing. Shoving. Swearing. Name-calling. Throwing basketballs at players. All caught on camera.
Video showing a coach verbally and physically abusing his players has resulted in the firing of Mike Rice, the Head Coach of Rutger University’s Men’s Basketball Team.
News 8 talked to local coaches – past and present – about the video and what they thought of the coach’s behavior.
“It was just shocking,” says Thom Sigel, Head Coach of the Rock Island High School Men’s Basketball Team. “I know sometimes coaches may lose control a little bit, but just to see the repeated actions was pretty shocking.”
“I just don’t know what you’re accomplishing by trying to throw a ball at a kid’s head,” says Darren Bizarri, Head Coach of Black Hawk College’s Men’s Basketball Team. “When you’re the coach you’ve got all the power anyway. You can sit them down, you can take their scholarships, you can run them, you can have them do pushups until they can’t move their arms. There’s a lot of things you can do. You don’t need to throw a ball at their head.”
“The most inexcusable part is the language,” says Duncan Reid, who was the Head Coach of Rock Island High School’s Men’s Basketball Team from 1980 to 2001. “The language [Rice] used, I have never used in all the years I coached.”
The video is excerpts of practices from 2010 to 2012 and initially earned Rice a three-game suspension, a $50,000-$75,000 fine, and anger management classes, but after it was broadcast on ESPN’s show — called “Outside the Lines” — on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013, New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, called for Rice to be fired.
On Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, Rice apologized for his actions.
“I’ve let so many people down,” Rice told reporters outside his home. “My players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family who’s sitting in their house just huddled around becuase of the fact that their father was an embarrassment to them.”
There has been one former Rutgers player who has spoken out in defense of Rice. He says most players accepted Rice’s behavior and the video is being taken out of context.
But the coaches News 8’s Angie Sharp spoke with today disagree.
“Some of it [the grabbing and the ball throwing] looked like it wasn’t out of frustration, it was like he really was trying to hurt somebody,” says Coach Sigel.
“There’s a difference between pointing a finger and grabbing a kid and I don’t know how fine of a line that is, but it’s certainly a line you don’t cross,” says Coach Bizarri.
“To throw the ball at a guy’s foot or passing the ball to a guy to make him catch it, that’s probably done by every coach,” says Coach Reid. “The grabbing of the player and pushing him in the chest and physically throwing him to the side, that’s unacceptable.”