Video of Rutgers Coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing his players at practice drew strong reaction from leaders in Portland’s coaching community.
Rutgers fired basketball coach Mike Rice on Wednesday after a videotape aired showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.
KGW showed the clips to OSAA executive director Tom Welter, who oversees thousands of coaches and more than 120,000 high school student athletes in Oregon.
“There’s no excuse for that,” said Welter. “I would like to have thought the days of physical, verbal, emotional abuse of athletes had kind of passed.”
Coaches used to be more demonstrative. Many remember Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes punching an opposing player, or Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight throwing a chair onto the court.
These kinds of incidents still happen – California’s coach was caught on camera shoving his star player last month – but these incidents are rare, and often followed by public apologies.
The Rutgers case is different because the school president and athletic director saw the footage months ago but only fired Rice when the video was leaked to the public.
“I’m surprised he works in environments where that’s acceptable,” said Eric Reveno, head coach at the University of Portland.
“I have empathy for him as a person. He’s a good person. I don’t think he’s evil at heart. You talk about that slippery slope with trying to build toughness. First time he did it, he got a good response...but at the end of the day, what we saw, it’s just clear as day it’s not acceptable.”
On Wednesday, Rice apologized publicly.
"As I stated three months ago after I watched the video how deeply regrettable those actions (were). I also stated I was going to try to work on changing. I think I've accomplished a lot of that," Rice said. "I can't say anything right now except I'm sorry and there will never be a time where I'm going to use any of that as an excuse or there will be any excuse.
Rice is the son of Blazers announcer Mike Rice. The Blazers were asked for comment but have yet to respond.