Thursday, April 4, 2013

Another black eye for basketball.......and maybe lacrosse, too.

Rutgers basketball is better known for its women's team, coached by C. Vivian Stringer, which was publicly embarrassed by radio talker Don Imus a few years back. The men's team, however, is making headlines for something even more embarrassing.

On Wednesday, coach Mike Rice was fired after a video went public showing Rice verbally & physically abusing his players during practice. Rice wasn't a winner in three years at the New Jersey school, and I'd not be too surprised if someone suggested they couldn't beat the women's team in a co-ed scrimmage. Rice is shown pushing and taunting players, using homophobic slurs, and even tossing basketballs at them.

This is not how you teach your players to be winners. The frustration, clearly, had set in for Rice, but school officials had a chance four months ago to cut bait with him after a former assistant coach, Eric Murdock, presented video evidence of abuses. Instead, Murdock was fired himself. Obviously, Rutgers suits didn't want a situation similar to what happened at Penn State in 2011 happening to them, but, sad to say, it may just happen anyway. The athletic director and president of the university have come under fire for not acting sooner than they did. The most glaring question raised by the media on Wednesday, particularly on ESPN's Around the Horn, was why Rutgers administration sat on the tape for 3-4 months when they could've nipped the whole thing in the bud?

For his part, Rice has apologized and expressed regret & remorse for his foolish actions. However, I doubt very seriously he'll land another head coaching job right away.

Closer to home, a similar situation has erupted at Shenendehowa High in Clifton Park, where boys' lacrosse coach Chuck Holohan has been suspended indefinitely. School officials have kept mum on specific charges, per school policy, but according to local press, it seems Holohan may also have engaged in some physical abuse. As of now, there are no videotapes exposing any of the abuse that has been alleged, but given that Shen has one of the most respected athletic programs in upstate New York, and has for years, this is even more shocking. The timing of the allegations against Holohan, in light of the Rice case, is merely coincidental. Shen officials made the decision to suspend Holohan prior to Tuesday's league opener against Niskayuna.

Naturally, all the facts will emerge in due course, and then the case will simply go away, like things like this usually do in Section II. Unless someone with a video camera comes along........

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