Area coaches express shock at Rice video

Area coaches express shock at Rice video

April 5th, 2013 by Gene Henley in Sports - Preps

Joe Galloway

Photo by Tracey Trumbull/Times Free Press.

Kent Smith

Tuesday afternoon, shockwaves were sent through the nation when video footage was aired of multiple Rutgers University men's basketball practices in which head coach Mike Rice was seen kicking players and hurling basketballs as well as inappropriate slurs at them.

The video that started on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" ultimately led to Rice's dismissal.

Count area high school coaches among those expressing disbelief, as the video answered some questions as well as bringing up other, possibly bigger questions. High-ranking officials at Rutgers saw the video in December and determined the appropriate punishment at that time was a three-game suspension, a fine of $50,000, another $25,000 or so in lost salary and anger-management classes.

Yet once the video went viral, public pressure led to Rice's firing.

"I was shocked," Bradley Central coach Kent Smith said. "There's no place for that in coaching. I think that a lot of coaches have walked up to that line, but you can't cross it. Parents have a right to know that coaches will treat their kids like their own when they're at practice and at games, and I always make it clear before the season starts what I expect as well as what the players and parents should expect from me.

"There has to be accountability there."

A few coaches were surprised that there was no retaliation from the players, especially with the nature of some of the things that were said and done in the clips.

"The players are the guys that make your program," Brainerd coach Robert High said. "Those are the ones you have to trust and depend on; I don't think you would treat a dog like that. We're supposed to be professionals and know better. I know it's frustrating at times, but you have to treat these kids like they're human and not like an animal.

"It blew my mind. I have never in all my years as a coach seen anything like that. Those kids obviously respect him, but he's lucky because you can only push a dog in the corner for so long before he comes back at you. I'm surprised one didn't retaliate."

The former Rutgers coach is due $100,000 for finishing the season as the head coach. Had he been fired in December when university officials saw the tape, he would not be entitled to the bonus.

Now those officials could have a tough road of their own since they punished Rice then and as of now no new evidence has surfaced that any more bad activity has happened since he took anger-management classes. It has caused some to call for the immediate dismissals of athletic director Tim Penetti and school president Robert Barchi, who both had knowledge of what had happened.

A news conference that had been called for Thursday to discuss further details of Rice's firing was canceled, per a report from the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.

Lookout Valley coach Joe Galloway said the university could have a bigger problem because of double-punishment for the same offense.

"It seemed strange that the punishment was anger-management and the provision was that they were going to move forward. My question is, did he have any incidents afterward?" Galloway said. "It seems to me that if the punishment was to fine and suspend him and he met those provisions, firing him now would be an injustice.

"I think that firing him at that time would have been best for the university. People saw that video and were outraged, but the university should have let him go at that time instead of giving in to public pressure, because I would think he would have a lawsuit against them since he took their initial punishment."

That doesn't mean Galloway supports anything that happened, though.

"It's sad for all parties involved," he said. "I heard the apology and he sounded sincere, but there's been a lot of harm done to the people at the university."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.