(Corrects paragraph 4 to show Rutgers athletic department did
not return calls for comment)
By David Jones
NEWARK, N.J., April 2 The ESPN sports network
released video on Tuesday showing a Rutgers University men's
basketball head coach, briefly suspended for his behavior last
year, shoving players, hurling balls at their heads and berating
them with homophobic slurs and profanity during practices.
The video of Coach Mike Rice prompted the office of New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie to release a statement condemning
the coach's behavior. Rutgers, home to about 58,000 students, is
a public university based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
"Governor Christie saw the video today for the first time
and he is obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed
and strongly condemns this behavior," said the statement. "It's
not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people
and clearly there are questions about this behavior that need to
be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University."
A university spokesman referred a request for comment to the
athletic department, and Jason Baum, a spokesman for Rutgers'
athletic department, did not return calls seeking comment.
The video of Rice, taken during team practice sessions,
came from attorneys for Eric Murdock, a former professional
basketball player and former official at the Rutgers athletic
department, according to ESPN. The video of Rice has not been
seen by the public previously.
Murdock said he reported Rice's behavior in 2012 and the
school later declined to renew his contract, ESPN said.
In December 2012, Rutgers athletic director Tom Pernetti
announced that Rice had been suspended for three games and fined
$50,000. The suspension took place after Rutgers authorities saw
the video, according to Pernetti, who said he saw it in
When Rutgers authorities announced the suspension, they
provided few details but said there was a "pattern" of
inappropriate language and behavior. Rice is in the third year
of a five-year contract, and was paid $655,000 by the state
university last year, according to public records.
In an interview with ESPN, which was posted on the sports
network's website on Tuesday, Pernetti said Rice's suspension
stemmed primarily from his use of anti-gay slurs.
Pernetti denied Murdock's claim that he was wrongfully
terminated and said his contract was not renewed after he
attended a speaking engagement against the wishes of the Rutgers
The video, and other footage of Rice, will be featured on
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" show on Sunday. ESPN is a division of
Walt Disney Co.
Legal experts familiar with the program said they were at a
loss to explain how Rice's behavior was tolerated by the school.
"On a number of levels I'm just really shocked and
embarrassed by this whole thing," said Jerrald Colton, a
Voorhees, New Jersey-based attorney and an agent at CS Sports
Management, which represents professional athletes. "Based on
what I've seen he should have been terminated immediately."
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Walsh)