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Rutgers, Pernetti fire Rice after video release

Wednesday - 4/3/2013, 11:52am  ET

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2012, file photo, Rutgers coach Mike Rice waves as he holds a ball presented to him for his 100th career win after Rutgers defeated Cincinnati in an NCAA college basketball game in Piscataway, N.J. ESPN's airing on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, of a videotape of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice using gay slurs, shoving and grabbing his players and throwing balls at them in practice over the past three seasons has the university's athletic director reconsidering his decision not to fire the coach. Scarlet Knights AD Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in late November by a disgruntled former employee, and he suspended Rice for three games, fined him $50,000 and made him undergo anger management classes for inappropriate behavior after investigating it. (AP Photo/Mel Evans,file)

TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Rutgers fired basketball coach Mike Rice on Wednesday after a videotape aired showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.

The videotape, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, prompted sharp criticism from Gov. Chris Christie, and the head of the New Jersey Assembly called for Rice to be fired.

With mounting criticism on a state and national level, the school decided to take action, relieving Rice of his duties after three largely unsuccessful seasons at the Big East school. There will be a national search to replace him.

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in late November by a former employee. After hiring independent investigators to analyze the tape, he suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes. University president Robert Barchi signed off on the initial punishment.

But in a Wednesday email, Rutgers referred to new information and "a review of previously discovered issues" as the reasons for Rice's termination.

"I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice," Pernetti said. "Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community."

Less than an hour after the dismissal, Barchi released a statement.

"Rutgers University has a long and proud history as one of the nation's most diverse and welcoming academic institutions. Coach Rice's abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university's core values," the statement said.

"When video excerpts of basketball practices were reviewed last fall by athletic director Tim Pernetti, he immediately notified me and sought the advice of internal and outside counsel. The university hired an independent investigator to look into this matter thoroughly. Based on the external investigator's findings and recommendations, Tim and I agreed that Coach Rice should be suspended, penalized $75,000 in fines and lost salary, ordered to undergo anger management counseling, and put on notice that his behavior would be closely monitored. Tim Pernetti also made it clear to Coach Rice that there would be zero tolerance for additional infractions. Tim kept me fully apprised and I supported his actions."

Rice has stayed in his home in Little Silver, N.J., for most of the week. His children did not leave for school Wednesday morning. Rice greeted reporters on Tuesday afternoon, with no comment, and on Wednesday, he walked out front to address them.

"As I stated three months ago after I watched the video how deeply regrettable those actions (were). I also stated I was going to try to work on changing. I think I've accomplished a lot of that," Rice said. "I can't say anything right now except I'm sorry and there will never be a time where I'm going to use any of that as an excuse or there will be any excuse.

"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. It's troubling, but at some time maybe I'll try to explain it. But right now there's no explanation for what's on those films. There is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I want to tell everybody who's believed in me that I'm deeply sorry for the pain and hardship that I've caused."

Rice, who helped Robert Morris to two NCAA tournament appearances, was one of the hot coaching candidates in the spring of 2010. He interviewed with Fordham, where he played as a guard, only to not get the chance to return to his alma mater. Eventually, there was a difference in opinion in the school's search committee, and Rice's fiery, in-game behavior was a sticking point.

But Rutgers, and Pernetti, took a chance on him not long after that. The Scarlet Knights had an opening because of the unexpected dismissal of Fred Hill, Jr., and Rice, who has strong New Jersey recruiting roots, seemed like a fit.

But he wasn't able to push Rutgers into the upper echelon of the conference, and went just 44-51 at Rutgers. Rice posted just a 16-38 mark in the Big East, after going 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season and 5-13 in the league.

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