Loss of Integrity in the Name of Sports Suddenly Becoming NCAA Norm

Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice was recently let go for his actions during practice, which included throwing balls at players and yelling at them, using homophobic slurs. His actions were caught on videotape and instantly spread across the Internet.

He was fired from Rutgers as soon as the video surfaced as the top story on ESPN, along with Rutgers’ athletic director.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, a man known for not holding back his feelings in practices and throughout games, said, "I don't know what brought that out in a person."

Wichita St. coach Gregg Marshall said how “[Mike’s actions are] unfortunate, I hate it for Mike, I hate it for Rutgers University, I hate it for those players."

There is no question in my or anyone else’s mind that Mike Rice was wrong and he was ridiculously offensive both in his actions and as a representative of the university. My question is this, however: why did it take publicity to fire Coach Rice from Rutgers?

This video was disgusting and was a good example of how awful people can be, but it wasn’t until the video began to pop up all over the Internet that Rutgers University took action. Rutgers played the game of being completely innocent. They attempted to trick the country into thinking that when the video popped up, they had no idea that this had been going on. There is no way that Rutgers hadn’t known about it, and it is my strong opinion that they have been covering this up for a long time.

Rutgers’ athletics director Tim Pernetti gave a statement on the actions taken by the university over the winter.

“Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong,” he said. “Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community.”

I find this proclamation very hard to believe. “Dismissive and corrective action” were not and would never have been taken, because it was likely never even considered. If mostly any person had evaluated him, watched his practices, seen the way he ran his team and observed how he interacted with his players, they would have fired him immediately. My question is why the university chose not to, and what was so special about Mike Rice so as to let him stay?

This video surfaced back in November, and its existence was kept quiet. The university was given a copy, and chose to keep Rice. Until the media got onto it. Then Mike Rice was left to be swallowed by the world and Rutgers detached all association from the man and the athletic director. This was the issue with this case. If Rutgers had truly cared about their reputation, they would have let the man go as soon as they learned of the issue.

But it doesn’t stop at Rutgers University; this tendency to conceal and withhold information from the public eye spreads all throughout the NCAA.  Each year, we find out about last year’s cheaters.  With the coming of new seasons arrives fresh news that some college has been cheating or some college has been covering up coaches’ and players’ actions. Just before the Rutgers' scandal, we saw Auburn’s 2010 BCS Championship run tainted with news of adjusted GPAs and covered up drug tests. And I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of two years ago, when the sports world was rocked by news of Jerry Sandusky and the horrors that took place at Penn State.

The entire college sports industry runs on covering things up, secrets and shady deals. How many more Rutgers, Auburns or Penn States do we need to see before people realize that the corruption within college sports needs to be addressed?


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