Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice was let go today, a day after a video of him swearing, slurring, and throwing balls at his players' heads was released. But let's be absolutely clear: Rice isn't being fired for actually doing any of that. He's being fired only because video exists.
Rutgers and athletic director Tim Pernetti have long known all about the allegations, made by former assistant Eric Murdock, who is preparing a wrongful termination suit. (He claims blowing the whistle on Rice's practices were what got him fired.) Murdock even showed the video to athletic department higher-ups back in December—hell, Pernetti made specific reference to the physical and verbal abuse when he suspended Rice for three games.
But that wasn't enough for Rice to lose his job then, even though absolutely nothing has changed other than ESPN releasing the video. It's the embarrassment—everyone from NJ Governor Chris Christie to LeBron James has weighed in—that finally forced Rutgers's hand.
Pernetti will likely say Rice's conduct was unforgivable, even though the university forgave him four months ago. (The school's announcement cites "recently revealed information," which, no.) Athletic departments: doing the right thing, but only after they're publicly exposed to PR nightmares. Now we wait to see who follows Rice out the door.