Backlash Continues Surrounding Former RU Basketball Coach [AUDIO]
After viewing the video tape, there’s no question that former Rutgers Basketball coach Mike Rice was physically and verbally abusive to his players.
Naturally, that causes concern for any employer. In this case, it’s Rutgers University.
“Rice could arguably be in violation of the state law against discrimination with his use of homophobic slurs,” said attorney David Strand, partner with labor and employment firm Fisher and Phillips in Murray Hill, New Jersey. “The case was investigated and he was disciplined. When an employer is put on notice of any type of harassment, discrimination or hostile work environment, they should conduct a prompt investigation and Rutgers did do that.”
On the other hand, Rice may actually have a legal argument of his own.
“It may not be too popular, but he was already disciplined and he’s being disciplined again for the same incident,” said Strand. “In a way, it’s almost like a double jeopardy argument. He’s been disciplined once for a behavior and is being disciplined again for the same behavior. It wouldn’t be a popular argument or one that would fly in the public eye, but it conceivably could be a legal argument if he wanted to try and defend himself.”
Rutgers University is a public university, so there are some due process guarantees to firing a coach that wouldn’t necessarily exist in the private workforce.
“I don’t know what his contract says, but his behavior would likely fall under the ‘for cause’ area without too much difficulty,” said Strand. “But, with government or state employees, there is a due process right that needs to run it’s course. I think public perception is already so overwhelmingly against this person that I don’t know how much success he would have. He may just want to regroup and try to find another job.”
Regardless of what happens down the road, there’s no question that the athletic director and the university president will have plenty of questions to answer.
“The athletic director did review the tapes and conducted his investigation and he implemented what he thought at the time was appropriate discipline. It appears that the court of public opinion over the past day or so certainly suggests that was woefully inadequate. So, the athletic director will have some explaining to do and his actions will be carefully reviewed. Being that the president of the university did reportedly condone the actions of the athletic director, he will likely have plenty of questions to answer as well.”