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Mike Rice Fired by Rutgers After Damaging Video Airs

Rutgers fired basketball coach Mike Rice on Wednesday, after a videotape aired on ESPN showed him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and using gay slurs during practice.

The videotape, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” prompted sharp criticism from New Jersey 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 relieved Rice of his duties after three largely unsuccessful seasons at the Big East school. There will be a national search to replace him.

Rice, in an impromptu news conference outside his home, apologized “for the pain and hardship that I’ve caused.”

“There will never be a time when I use any of that as an excuse,” Rice said, referring to his efforts toward a change in behavior. “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 that their father was an embarrassment to them.

“It’s troubling, but I will at some time, maybe I’ll try to explain it, but right now, there’s no explanation for what’s on those films. Because there is no excuse for it. I was wrong. I want to tell everybody who’s believed in me that I’m deeply sorry.”

A former employee gave Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti a copy of the video on Nov. 26, after a June meeting with Pernetti in which the former employee had initially described the behavior.

Pernetti said Tuesday that he investigated the allegations twice — once in June and then again in November. ┬áIn the fall, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games, fined him $50,000 and ordered him to attend anger management classes.

It’s unclear what sort of investigations Pernetti led; on Tuesday, he told “Outside the Lines” that the investigations were “independent” and took “hundreds of hours” and that he and investigators talked with current and former players, in addition to basketball staffers. On Wednesday, Rutgers acknowledged that John Lacey of Connell Foley LLP was hired to conduct an investigation that began on Nov. 27 and lasted approximately two weeks.

A source close to the Rutgers University Board of Trustees told “Outside the Lines” on Wednesday afternoon that “Pernetti’s job is safe” for now because of his prior work on getting Rutgers into a lucrative Big 10 deal last fall.

Still, “Outside the Lines” has talked with three former players who said they never have been asked by anyone about Rice’s coaching style or practices. Eric Murdock, the former employee who spoke with Pernetti in June and November, also told “Outside the Lines” that he was not contacted beyond his November discussion with Pernetti and other university officials.

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