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Two Rutgers players defend fired coach

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Two Rutgers players said Mike Rice wasn't as abusive as he appears to be on the video that cost the coach his job.

"You can't let those individual moments define what he was," junior forward Wally Judge said Thursday. "I have grown from the moment I stepped in these doors, not only as a player but as a person."

Sophomore forward Austin Johnson agreed: "He did a lot for us off the court, academically, socially. I enjoyed my time — even if it was an emotional roller coaster."

Rice was fired Wednesday, the day after the airing of a video showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and using gay slurs.

"I feel if people had a chance to see the other portions of practice … their judgment would not be as severe," Johnson said. "I am not saying what he did wasn't wrong. But it is also tough because it was a highlight reel of his worst moments. A lot of things that have been seen have been taken out of context. A lot of things that aren't seen are when we grab him and kid around."

"Mike was almost like a big brother. When you have a big brother-type of figure, you know you can play around like that."

Rice will get a $100,000 bonus for lasting through the season as called for in his contract, the university said Thursday. Rice was paid $622,500 last season, including bonuses for wins and graduating players.

Rutgers faculty and state politicians have called for athletic director Tim Pernetti and president Robert Barchi to be ousted.

After seeing the video in November, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and required him to take anger management classes. Pernetti initially said Barchi also saw the video in November. On Wednesday, Barchi denied it and Pernetti backed the president's version.

"Although President Barchi is now suggesting otherwise, he has known about Coach Rice's homophobic, misogynist and abusive behavior for several months now," a letter sent from the faculty to the university's governing boards read.

New Jersey's state senate president, Stephen Sweeney, said Pernetti deserves credit for getting Rutgers into the Big Ten but mishandled this situation.

"This incident will continue to hang over Rutgers like a dark cloud for weeks, months and, perhaps, years to come," he said.

Pernetti and Barchi declined to comment.

Also Thursday, one of Rice's assistants, Jimmy Martelli, resigned. "I am sickened that as an assistant coach I contributed in any way to an unacceptable culture," Martelli said. "For my actions I am deeply sorry, and I apologize to the players."

Two Rutgers players defend fired coach 04/04/13 [Last modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 10:21pm]
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