The responses to my post on the firing of Mike Rice (April 18th) were varied but most seemed to have questions about the decision. There was also comment on the sharp line between being a tough coach and being a sadistic one.
Sooooo — if you were Tim Pernetti, the Athletic Director of Rutgers (who was just lauded for getting Rutgers into the Big Ten), would you have fired Mike Rice? Hmmmm?? Tim Pernetti did not fire Mike Rice. He suspended him for 3 games and fined him $50,000. But after the media got hold of the story, Rice was fired. Then Pernetti was fired for not being “tough” on Mike Rice. Was that right? If you say “yes,” I would be critical of your decision unless you know the background of this story.
When the videos of Mike Rice’s antics (antics which players said were rare) came to light last year, Tim Pernetti consulted the Legal Department of Rutgers – and Human Resources – to get their input. An independent investigator recommended the suspension and fine. John Wolf, the General Counsel of Rutgers agreed. Pernetti thought the suspension and fine were enough. Legal agreed. HR agreed. The independent investigator agreed. What happens? Mike Rice was suspended. And fined. But — our wonderful media got this story. And smelled news. Played it up big. And made Mike Rice and Tim Pernetti bad guys. Scapegoats. The media didn’t give a hoot about background. And truth often gets in the way. So Mike Rice was fired. And then Tim Pernetti was fired – even though he acted promptly and went through proper channels. John Wolf the General Counsel then resigned. And Rutgers is in the doghouse. Many of the righteous ones “tsk tsk.” But they never heard the whole story. And perhaps don’t care.
So what does this say about us? The notions of fair play, reason and trying to do the right thing? What does it say about giving a fellow human a second chance? The words and actions of Mike Rice were not defensible but when an oversight consortium makes a reasoned call on what should be done, should their decision be given deference? Or should our highly-biased media serve as our nation’s appellate court? I don’t often give editorials but this post probably qualifies as one . . . .