Rutgers University officials had an obligation to look out for the welfare of the school's student athletes. Instead, they chose to put the school's image first.
Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice was fired on Wednesday after video recorded by a former assistant was broadcast on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. The video shows the Scarlet Knights coach shoving and throwing basketballs at players, as well as cursing and yelling homophobic slurs at players.
Rice’s behavior prompted an outcry from sports fans across the country and lawmakers throughout the state of New Jersey, including Governor Chris Christie, who knows a thing or two about bullying. But over on Fox News, The Five co-host Eric Bolling was outraged for a different reason.
“We’re in the midst of political correctness crushing our ability to teach kids, to discipline kids, to disagree with people or one another or kids. Our culture is in decline, but this is an example of our culture in free fall and I’m saying this because he got fired, not because of what he did. Listen, it’s time to toughen up. I talk about the wussification of America, the wussification of American men, this is it. … But here’s the question, are we better off as a nation, now, with all the PC, with all the wimpifying, wussificating, and basically making men Chihuahuas.”
Bolling said the coach’s homophobic slurs were “against all rules,” but he still seems blind to the physical abuse. Bolling said it happened all the time when he was a kid.
“I got a paddle in high school, I did something wrong once in gym, and they take a paddle — it’s a sawed-off bat, flat on one side, and they whack you in the butt, across the back of the legs. I tell you what, I never messed around in that class again. I come from a time where coaches did this on a regular basis. They got in your face, they pushed you, they threw stuff at you, they got angry and it wasn’t the end of the world.”
And he’s not the only one over on Fox who doesn’t mind a little “old-fashioned discipline.” Here’s what Sean Hannity said:
“And I’m watching this, and I’m thinking, alright, I don’t like it. He kicked one player there. But on the other hand, you know what, I kind of like old-fashioned discipline, on the other hand. I mean, have we become that politically incorrect? These are adults. They don’t want to play for that team, they can leave. … But I can understand, stop hitting them, maybe. But I like the intensity, I like the drive. I like that he’s pushing those kids and that he runs a tight ship. Maybe, maybe we need a little more discipline in society, and maybe we don’t have to be a bunch of wimps for the rest of our lives. My father hit me with a belt, I turned out okay. Except for the minds of liberals.”
Yeah, that part about you turning out okay is definitely up for debate. But guys, times have changed. This isn’t about being politically correct, it isn’t about being “tough.” It’s about doing what’s right. And turning a blind eye to Rice’s abuse sets a dangerous precedent.
Athletic Director Tim Pernetti [UPDATE: Pernetti resigned on Friday] knew about the video back in November and told University President Robert Barchi. And according to the Newark Star-Ledger, an outside law firm was hired to determine the university’s next move to avoid legal action.
The result was a slap on the wrist: a three-game suspension without pay and $50,000 fine.
Barchi hadn’t even seen the tape until Tuesday, the same day ESPN aired it. Pernetti and Barchi had an obligation to look out for the welfare of the school’s student athletes. Instead, they looked the other way in order to protect the school’s image. That choice hurt Rutgers far worse than if they’d confronted the issue head on, right away.