December 4, 2020

March Madness Becomes April Angst at Rutgers

Have you seen the Allstate insurance commercials depicting the guy who puts mayhem in your house? Mr. Mayhem, as he is called, falls through an attic, is run over by a car and crashes through windows. He is an accident in motion. These commercials are great — I laugh and enjoy them.

Former head Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice ran his own mayhem at his practices this season, but this was no fun. Rice was caught on video hurling basketballs at his players’ heads, shoving players to the ground, hitting them, cursing and making homophobic slurs during a basketball practice.

“You f**king fairy. … You’re a f**king fa**ot,” Rice appears to say during one session depicted on a video obtained by ESPN.

This is no Allstate commercial.

The abuse goes on throughout the entire 30-minute video. It was a nightmare beamed across the country on ESPN. Instead of my nightly NBA scores, this is what I got.

The story gets worse. On Nov. 26, 2012, Tim Pernetti, then-athletic director at Rutgers, watched the video and the excessive physical and mental abuse bestowed on his players by Rice. Authorities at the university discussed the atrocity and it was decided to keep the coach. Pernetti decided to suspend Rice for three games and fine him $50,000 for his actions. That’s right, they kept the coach. There was physical and mental abuse right in front of university officials’ eyes and nothing of significance was done.

Rice was given a slap on the wrist. University President Robert L. Barchi said he never bothered to watch the video until last week when ESPN got a hold of it and showed it. That was four months ago when the incident was brought to light and he just now watched it?

This is not Penn State, where you had to use your imagination to see the horror the young molested children were subject to. This was in plain sight — abuse caught on video. There would be no denying what happened.

Rutgers, like so many other big time college sports programs, is in it for the money. It seems these athletic programs can’t ever get enough of it. At the same time this happened in November, Rutgers was pushing to get acceptance into the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten is where Ohio State University and University of Michigan reside — with multi-million dollar TV contracts and sports budgets so big it is hard to comprehend. Oh, by the way, this is the same conference Penn State plays in as well.

It sickens me to see what money does in big time college sports. Of course now the coach is gone and Pernetti has resigned, but only after the world was exposed to these crimes caught on camera. Barchi hangs on by a thread.

There are always questions, but the answers are always too late:

—Did any of these officials consider the young men that were put through this?

—Is this what big-time sports are all about?

—Is this what we are teaching our future leaders of this country to do?

—Is playing Ohio State and Michigan that important?

The Allstate commercial and Mr. Mayhem will make you laugh, but watch this mess and you’ll be disgusted and outraged. This is no commercial unless you’re advertising pain and abuse.

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