UPI NewsTrack Sports

April 3, 2013 at 5:15 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

Rutgers fires basketball Coach Mike Rice

PISCATAWAY, N.J., April 3 (UPI) -- Rutgers fired men's basketball Coach Mike Rice Wednesday, one day after ESPN aired video suggesting he verbally and physically abused players during practice.

Rice, 44, just completed his third season at Rutgers, which included a three-game suspension without pay and $50,000 fine after school officials first saw the practice video last November.

"I can't say anything right now except that I'm sorry," Rice said after Rutgers announced his firing.

"I've let so many people down, my players, my administration, the fans, my family, who is sitting in their house just huddled around because of the fact that their father is an embarrassment.

"There's no explanation for what's on those films and there's no excuse for it, I was wrong."

A compilation of scenes from Rutgers practices, the 40-minute tape shows Rice using gay slurs to insult players, throwing basketballs at their heads, and shoving, kicking and grabbing them on the court.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" obtained the video and showed it Tuesday, creating a media firestorm.

"Based upon recently revealed information and a reviews of previously discovered issues, Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice," the school said in a statement Wednesday.

The two-paragraph release included a statement from Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Pernetti, stating: "I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice. 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."

Rutgers President Robert Barchi issued a statement Wednesday saying Rice's "abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university's core values."

Barchi said the video "shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior," and he concluded Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability."

"This was a regrettable episode for the university, but I completely support the decision to remove Coach Rice," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement Wednesday.

Pernetti, who had given Rice a vote of confidence last month, said Tuesday the three-game suspension and $50,000 fine would be the extent of the school's disciplining of Rice, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported. The suspension -- for what the school called at the time "a violation of athletic department policy" and use of "inappropriate behavior and language" -- cost Rice $74,905, about 25 percent of his pay for the 2012-13 season, the newspaper said.

The school required Rice to attend sensitivity training and anger management counseling, which was still in progress at the end of the season, and Rice asked that the school appoint someone not connected with the basketball program to monitor has behavior.

The tape is believed to have been shot by former director of player development Eric Murdock, whose contract wasn't renewed last year, the Star-Ledger said.

Murdock's attorney, Raj Gadhok, said Tuesday Murdock plans to sue the school for wrongful termination, ESPN reported.

Falcons sign linebacker Brian Banks

ATLANTA, April 3 (UPI) -- Brian Banks, exonerated of rape charges after serving over five years in prison, was signed Wednesday by the Atlanta Falcons, the team announced.

"We are pleased to have Brian on our team," Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "We are happy Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL."

Banks, 27, was convicted and imprisoned on rape and kidnapping charges 10 years ago but the victim recanted her claim and offered to help him clear his name, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, noting the Falcons have avoided signing players with character issues since the conviction of quarterback Michael Vick on charges relating to dog fighting.

"I just want to thank God for the opportunity. I want to thank God for life," Banks said in a conference call Wednesday.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker played for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League in 2012.

Ex-Penn State player arrested in rampage

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., April 3 (UPI) -- Seven people in Atlantic City, N.J., were injured when former Penn State lineman Tom McHugh went on a rampage in a public building, police said.

After McHugh, 29, was released from the jail in the city's Public Safety Building Tuesday morning, he went to the offices of the Atlantic City Police on the building's fourth floor. When confronted by officers, he grabbed a fire extinguisher from a wall and sprayed them before he was wrestled to the ground, police said.

Prior to the incident, McHugh was arrested on two charges of disorderly conduct, for allegedly scaring and chasing children on a street, and later allegedly stealing items from a convenience store, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Wednesday.

McHugh was removed from Penn state's football team in 2003 for public drunkenness, the newspaper noted.

He faces charges, in the Public Safety Building incident, of aggravated assault on police, resisting arrest, possession of a destructive device and related offenses.

Olympic diver Sammy Lee found

LOS ANGELES, April 3 (UPI) -- Olympic gold medal diver Sammy Lee, who suffers from dementia, was found in Pico Rivera, Calif., one day after he was reported missing, police said.

Lee, 92, left his home Monday afternoon to go swimming at Los Caballeros Racquet and Sports Club in Fountain Valley, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Police, tracing Lee's credit card purchases, said Lee bought gas in Mojave at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and again at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Studio City, Huntington Beach Police Lt. Gary Faust said.

Police verified Lee had been at the Studio City gas station but didn't find him there. How police tracked him to Pico Rivera but where exactly they found him wasn't reported.

Details on the diver's condition weren't reported.

Lee, the son of Korean immigrants, won the gold medal on the men's platform at the 1948 London Games. He was the first Asian-American to win a gold medal. He won gold again in the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories