Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Why Mike Rice had to lose his job
By Darren Rovell
Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice could not keep his job.
He just couldn't.
I'd like to think he got fired for his behavior that was revealed on tape -- the screaming, the cursing, the throwing balls at players. But that's not why he was fired. If that were the case, he would have been fired months ago when Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti saw the tapes.
What put Rice on the chopping block is the fact that the tape went public. Nothing else. This was not a victory for human decency or for the players. This will simply be a victory for business.
Here's the bottom line: The firing is only about the bottom line.
The Rutgers basketball program is already struggling. The last time they made the NCAA tournament was 1991. They've also had abuse issues in the past. In 1997, head coach Kevin Bannon made two players and a team manager run in the nude after losing a free throw shooting contest. Bannon survived until 2001.
Rice was fired because the nation is now bashing Rutgers, including LeBron James, who tweeted, "If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that he would have some real explaining to do." For a program that is already dealing with a challenging situation, the school couldn't afford for it to get any worse.
Players are reportedly transferring. New Jersey state legislators who probably didn't even know Mike Rice's name before Tuesday were calling for his head. Governor Chris Christie, arguably the most powerful governor in the country, even condemned the coach's actions.
A society that justifiably revolted will pat itself on the back now that Rice is fired. They did the right thing by objecting to the disgusting behavior. But that will be a bit misguided.
When shock jock Don Imus was suspended and then fired for using a derogatory term to describe the Rutgers women's basketball team, he didn't get canned because of his words. He got fired because sponsors pulled their ads. It was no longer good for business.
In the same light, Mike Rice was not fired because of what he did. He was fired for what he can no longer do.