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April 4, 2013

Rice is fired; who’s next?

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Once the video went viral, Mike Rice’s coaching days at Rutgers were over.

Now the question is whether anyone else will lose their jobs — including the athletic director who in December suspended and fined Rice for the abusive behavior, and the university president who signed off on it.

Rice was fired Wednesday, one day after a video surfaced of him hitting, shoving and berating his players with anti-gay slurs. Rice, in his third season with the Scarlet Knights, apologized outside his home in Little Silver, N.J.

“I’ve let so many people down: my players, my administration, Rutgers University, the fans, my family, who’s sitting in their house just huddled around because of the fact their father was an embarrassment to them,” he said. “I want to tell everybody who’s believed in me that I’m deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I’ve caused.”

Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the tape by a former employee in November and, after an independent investigator was hired to review it, Rice was suspended for three games, fined $75,000 and ordered to attend anger management classes. University President Robert Barchi agreed to the penalty.

Pernetti initially said Tuesday he and Barchi viewed the video in December. The president issued a statement Wednesday, saying he didn’t see it until Tuesday and then moved to fire the 44-year-old coach for repeated abusive conduct. Through a school spokesman, Pernetti backed up his president and said Barchi did not view the video until this week.

“Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior,” Barchi said in a statement. “I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability. He cannot continue to coach at Rutgers University.”

The video shows numerous clips of Rice at practice during his three years at the school firing basketballs at players, hitting them in the back, legs, feet and shoulders. It also shows him grabbing players by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. Rice can also be heard yelling obscenities and using gay slurs.

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