Wednesday, April 03, 2013

4/3 (Rutgers) Quickie

UPDATE: Mike Rice has been fired. Looks like the AD isn't going anywhere (and would find the idea of losing his job to be absurd). The president is untouchable. My pick for next Rutgers coach: Danny Hurley, native son of NJ, former top NJ prep coach and on-the-rise college coach at Rhode Island.

ORIGINAL (which mostly still holds):

If there is a recurring theme here as it relates to scandals, it is this simple idea: The cover-up is always worse than the crime.

In the context of this Mike Rice/Rutgers awfulness, you can add another: If there's video -- uh-oh.

The visual evidence is the battering ram here: You cannot watch it and not find yourself outraged at Mike Rice's conduct, which appears to be a totally natural thing for him.

But then you peel it away and it becomes more insidious and more -- to lean on a pun I came up with related to Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti -- pernicious.

It wasn't just that Rice abused his players.

It was that the Rutgers AD for all intents and purposes covered it up -- a three-game suspension? It doesn't pass the smell test, especially after you watch the video. The AD's decision-making -- the lack of leadership -- was appalling.

And then you move up the chain: There is no way that the president of Rutgers didn't know about this -- an AD can't suspend the basketball coach without the president of the school (which had just spent an enormous amount of energy and resources muscling its way into the Big Ten) knowing why.

In that way, it was a disqualifying display of "leadership" from the Rutgers president.

And you get the sense that had Don Van Natta and his team at ESPN not dug all this up, Rutgers would have been content to let all of this slide. And that is where the rot is.

It is impossible to take Rutgers seriously as an athletic or academic institution while Mike Rice is the basketball coach, while Tim Pernetti is the AD and while Robert Barchi is the president.

Given that Rice wasn't gone this morning, either Rutgers is figuring out how to navigate through this without firing him -- which would be gobsmacking -- or they are getting rid of him and at this point, it's just about Pernetti and Barchi saving their own jobs, not that they have any credibility remaining.

The point of my column today for USA TODAY Sports is that while Mike Rice's actions were appalling, the institutional failures were just as bad.

There's a lot more in there: Yu Darvish and perfection, Mark Cuban and Brittney Griner, Shaq and Kobe, Louisville women's hoops and Louisville men's hoops, Nnamdi Asomugha and the 49ers and more. Give it a look, if you would.

-- D.S.

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