I believe loyalty to be a very important quality to possess. It’s application doesn’t just depend on who you are, it also has to depend who are being loyal to.
In the case of Rutgers, athletic director Tim Pernetti and school president, Robert Barchi, chose poorly. Clearly they like Mike Rice, the men’s basketball coach. They hired him, they trusted him, and they believed in him. I can certainly respect them for attempting to remain loyal and define what they saw in that practice video tape as a “bad day at the office” that Rice would be punished for, but they believed he could rebound from.
Unfortunately, their previously established loyalties were misguided. I wonder how they could watch that, and even how they could know Mike Rice, and think that was somehow an accident. What did they know about Mike Rice to make them think he wasn’t that cruel devil of a human in that video slinging balls and insults at players?
What I did find interesting, is that in the initial reporting of the 3-game suspension of Mike Rice back on December 13th that assistant David Cox and senior forward Austin Johnson said they were surprised by the suspension — “shocked,” in Johnson’s case.
When asked if he had ever seen anything in practice he deemed inappropriate, Cox said, “I can’t say that I have.”
“No, I don’t recall seeing anything specifically,” Johnson said. “All I recall is high-intensity practices, day in, day out. Even if it was high intensity, we reciprocated and we tried to give it back.”
Was that the case of loyalties being tested again? A player and an assistant defending the indefensible because of their loyalty to (fear of?) their leader?
The opportunity to speak up was presented to an entire team, and nothing more came of it?
A lot of folks dropped the ball on this one. Mike Rice wasn’t a one-day monster. I am sure we’ll hear more from former Rutgers and Robert Morris (his previous head coaching job) players and coaches. Everyone with a story to tell.
Let’s be clear, Mike Rice should be fired. His behavior is/was unacceptable. But there are a lot of people who failed in stopping this earlier, who allowed for this to continue. Certainly Pernetti and Barchi, in positions of power, either didn’t do a good enough job determining Rice’s character or Rice simply fooled them, and nobody (or not enough people outside of former assistant Eric Murdock) cried wolf loud enough for them to see Rice for what he was. They remained falsely loyal to him, and worse, did so after the damning video evidence. The video we’ve all seen, and much more quickly passed a guilty verdict on.
We had no loyalties to Rice. We were neutral observers. For some reason, others struggled to watch the video tape and see it for what it was, or even live through the abuse and didn’t do anything or enough to end it. Losing loyalty toward someone isn’t always indictment on self, sometimes it has to do with the person on the other end.