Mike Rice, the men's basketball coach at Rutgers University, was fired this morning after a video of him physically and verbally accosting student athletes went public. Throughout the 2.5 minute video we see the former coach grab, hit and assault players on multiple occasions. He even goes so far as throwing a basketball at the back of an athlete's head during practice.
And the abuse didn't stop there. Although the sound has been edited by ESPN, it's clear that Mike Rice also enjoyed verbally abusing his team as well. On several instances he can be heard swearing at the players and showering them obscenities and homophobic slurs.
Why Didn't Anyone Speak Up Sooner!?
Mike Rice's actions are indefensible and disgusting, but the bigger story here has to be... how can this sort of thing go on for so long? During the three years he's been a head coach at Rutgers how many adults have witnessed this kind of behavior and done nothing? There are almost too many to count. Between assistant coaches, team representatives, boosters, athletic department officials, and the players themselves, there have to be dozens of people that witnessed all of this firsthand.
Intimidation and Power
The only plausible explanation for why a coach would be allowed to treat student athletes this way is fear. Mike Rice's assistant coaches, team managers and players were all intimidated by his power. They were afraid to lose their jobs, their connection to a DI sports program, and their scholarships. As I wrote in Hero Delusions: Where Penn State Went Wrong after the Jerry Sandusky story broke, this all could have been avoided if so much power hadn't been concentrated with one person.
Would You Have Done Anything Differently?
If you had witnessed Mike Rice mistreating the Rutgers men's basketball team would you have reported him? What if you were a player on the team with a full scholarship?