Rutgers suspends, fines coach
Rutgers has suspended coach Mike Rice three games without pay and fined him $50,000 for a violation of department policy.
Athletic director Tim Pernetti announced the decision Thursday. He said the suspension is a result of inappropriate behavior and language, not NCAA violations.
''Mike will not be permitted to do anything. He'll be removed from the program. He won't be able to be active in his role as head basketball coach inside or outside the university,'' Pernetti said. ''The suspension for this period of time and these games is a complete removal from the program.''
Rice will return to his duties as head coach Jan. 2 at Syracuse.
''I was made aware of some things within the last couple of weeks. We commenced a thorough, lengthy and fair investigation and this was the result of that investigation,'' Pernetti said. ''There was obviously some things that are not to the Rutgers' standard that we evaluated and decided upon.''
Associate head coach David Cox will serve as the team's interim coach. Cox said Rice will learn from his mistakes. Cox said he didn't see a specific incident that would have got Rice into trouble. He said Rice is an intense, passionate coach, along the lines of former Temple coach John Chaney or former Georgetown coach John Thompson.
''Times have changed,'' Cox said. ''We probably as coaches, as adults, have to come a little bit further to meet some of these young men that we're working with in this day and age.''
Rutgers is 6-2 this season, and defeated George Washington, 68-65, on Tuesday at home. Rice, in his third season at the Big East school, apologized to his team and the university and says he's made a commitment to becoming a better coach.
''Accountability is a vital element of the Rutgers athletics family and it is imperative our head coaches act and lead in a responsible manner,'' Pernetti said. ''This was not an easy decision for me to make but absolutely necessary to ensure what is best for our program.''
Rice, 43, a former guard at Fordham, came to Rutgers from Robert Morris, where he took the Colonials to the NCAA tournament twice. His father, Mike Sr., also was a college coach, at Duquesne.
''Since becoming a coach at the age of 21, I have taken great pride in not only helping young men learn the game of basketball but also in teaching them about character, respect and hard work,'' Rice said. ''To the extent that my conduct has ever been in contrast with those principles, I have failed my players — and myself — and I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the terms of my suspension.
''I will learn from my mistakes and I will become a better coach, teacher and role model.''
The Scarlet Knights have not made the NCAA tournament since 1991. Rice, who replaced Fred Hill, was expected to push Rutgers up to the higher echelon of the Big East, but entered this season with just a 29-35 record at the school. He is also just 11-25 in conference games.
Forward Austin Johnson said he was shocked to learn Rice was being punished.
''All I recall is being at high-intensity practices day in and day out,'' he said. ''Even if it was high intensity, we reciprocated and we tried to give it back.''
Rutgers will host UAB (5-5) on Sunday.