bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: A big mess at Rutgers

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There are not a lot of major state universities that do not have the name of their state as part of the school’s name. I imagine that Rutgers is not the only example of this, but it is the only one that springs to mind. Rutgers is New Jersey’s biggest state university, and although it does technically have New Jersey in the name (the full name is “Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey”), nobody calls it that. I choose to believe that is to avoid having to admit they go to school in New Jersey. Anyway, the school, or more specifically the school’s basketball program, is having a bad week. Last weekend, ESPN’s Outside the Lines showed a video of the basketball team practicing and being verbally, and somewhat physically, abused by head coach Mike Rice. The coach’s behavior was pretty outrageous, as he tossed homophobic comments and profanity at his players, while also physically pushing them, throwing basketballs at their heads, and doing a variety of other awful things.

The video was actually made over the last few years, up until December, which is when Tim Pernetti, the school’s athletic director, became aware of it. Amazingly, Rice was not fired on the spot. Instead, he was suspended for three games and fined $75,000. No other action was taken against him until after the video was shown this week. The public backlash was huge and Pernetti fired Rice on Wednesday. Despite his status as a huge fan favorite who was instrumental in helping Rutgers join the Big Ten this year, Pernetti, a former football player for the Scarlet Knights, was relieved of his duties on Friday. OK, he technically resigned, but there was little doubt that he would have been shown the door had he not shown it to himself.

This story is not going away any time soon. There have been numerous calls for university president Robert Barchi to be canned as well. The video was provided to ESPN by Eric Murdock, a former basketball players at Rutgers and the director of player development there until last July, when he was fired. He is primed to sue the school for wrongful termination, believing he was fired for trying to reveal Rice’s tactics. Now Murdock is being investigated by the FBI for possibly trying to extort Rutgers for nearly a million dollars in order to keep him from revealing this video to the public. A story like this brings out the wolves from every media outlet.

Having followed the Penn State story very closely, I am inclined to wait and see this play out before fully forming my opinion on guilt and innocence as it pertains to the people involved outside of Rice, about whom I need no more information. I will be fascinated to see how it plays out, though. A number of big-money donors have made it known how unhappy they are with Pernetti’s ouster. For the sake of Rutgers and its students, I hope the school’s board of trustees is less pathetically incompetent than that of Penn State. That board continues to screw up that situation on a regular basis. Regardless, the Big Ten can’t be very excited about its newest member school right now.

Bad sports, continued:

2) A school that is far more used to scandal than Rutgers is in the soup again. Two different stories came out on Thursday that showed the Auburn football program in a very poor light. First, a website called Roostigo.com reported that the school had changed the grades of football players who would have otherwise been ineligible to play on the BCS Championship game that Auburn won in 2011. The report also said that the program had offered money to players with eligibility to keep them from leaving for the NFL Draft. A separate report, put out by ESPN, said that twelve members of that same team failed tests for synthetic marijuana but were not disciplined.

3) Ed Rush, the head of basketball officiating for the Pac-12 Conference, has resigned after it was revealed that he offered a bounty to his officials if they would either give a technical to or eject Arizona coach Sean Miller from his team’s conference semi-final against UCLA.

4) New York Yankees star second baseman Robinson Cano has fired super-agent Scott Boras and hired Jay-Z to represent him. What, Eminem wasn’t available?

5) Danielius Nomanovas, a forward for the Lithuanian under-18 national hockey team, apparently did not agree with a call made by one of the refs during a recent game against Great Britain. Check out the video.

6) Last month, Major League Baseball sued a man that it accused of of being involved in the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs. On Friday, the league amended its filing, saying the man had no connection to the organization it believes is responsible. Oops.

7) In the wake of the terrible injury suffered last weekend by Louisville’s Kevin Ware during the NCAA Tournament, Adidas started selling a t-shirt that paid tribute to the fallen player. Ware, as a college athlete, would have received no money from the proceeds, of course. There was an immediate backlash against the apparel-maker as well as Louisville, and the shirts were made unavailable.

Good sports:

1) Bryce Harper may not have been baseball’s biggest phenom last year (that was Mike Trout), but he wasted no time making a statement that this year could be different. Harper homered in his first two at-bats of the season, helping lead the Washington Nationals to a victory over the Florida Marlins.

2) Not to be outdone, Clayton Kershaw, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the current reigning Cy Young Award winner, opened his team’s season by tossing a complete game shutout while also hitting a homerun of his own.

3) Perhaps most impressive of all, Baltimore Orioles first baseman managed to homer in each of the first four games of the season, amassing 16 RBIs during that time. Amazing.

4) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, a graduate of the University of Tennessee, pledged to donate $500,000 to The Pat Summitt Foundation this week. Summitt, the legendary former coach of Tennessee’s incredibly successful women’s basketball team, is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her foundation is involved in many different facets of the fight against that disease.

5) The Nebraska Cornhuskers had their spring football game on Saturday and the players and coaches did something really nice at the end. They invited Jack Hoffman, a seven-year-old cancer patient, into the game. Hoffman, suited up in the team’s red and white uniform, then ran for a long touchdown on his only play, which ended with him being lifted in the air in triumph by the players. Awesome.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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