Final Four coaches: Mike Rice's behavior an isolated incident

Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange

Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange speaks to the media during the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four press conferences at the Georgia Dome. (April 4, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

ATLANTA -- Describing his happiness with a team that surprised him by reaching the Final Four, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said, "I don't think I've raised my voice more than a couple, three or four times the whole year."

Boeheim's remark on Thursday came against the backdrop of the firing on Wednesday of Rutgers coach Mike Rice after video surfaced that showed him shoving his players, throwing basketballs at them and verbally abusing them with homophobic slurs.

Michigan coach John Beilein, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall agreed that Rice's behavior was reprehensible, but all described it as an isolated incident that isn't reflective of the vast majority of college coaches.

"I'll go out where you probably shouldn't go," Boeheim said. "I don't think there's a coach in the country that does that."

After expressing his admiration for Rice's coaching ability, Boeheim said, "The tragedy is his team would have played exactly the same or better if he hadn't done any of that. If he never threw a ball, if he never touched anybody, his team would have played much better, in my experience."

Boeheim said that the last time he threw a ball, it was into the stands and he hurt his arm doing it. On a more serious note, he added, "I watched 10 seconds of the video. I couldn't watch it anymore."

It's not unusual, Boeheim said, for coaches to get verbal and even curse. "You get out of control," he said. "Things come out in the heat of the moment. But you can't touch a player other than on the shoulder or something, and you certainly can't push them and grab them or throw something at them."

Boeheim admitted his coaching style involved more yelling when he was younger, but at 68, he's learned there's no correlation between his team's effectiveness and his volume. "Now, if I get upset once every week or two, it's a lot," Boeheim said. "I found that it really doesn't make any difference."

Beilein cited the increased awareness among coaches that they could be caught on video.

"Today, whether I'm at a restaurant, going anywhere . . . we have to be cognizant there could be a video," Beilein said. "That's life right now . . . I would think you look at almost every Division I coach, watch their practice videos, one in 1,000 might have something like that in it.

" . . . But for the most part, people teach. That's how we've always done it. Maybe we're soft, but we just teach."

In the aftermath of the Rice firing, more than 50 Rutgers faculty members reportedly signed a petition calling for the firing of athletic director Tim Pernetti for merely suspending Rice after viewing the video. Pernetti's status is under review.

Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, on Thursday said administrators should talk about abusive behavior by coaches to determine if a policy is needed to handle it. "I find that video pretty appalling, to say the least," he said. "That's just uncalled for and inappropriate.''

Rutgers assistant steps down. Jimmy Martelli, one of Rice's assistants, has resigned, the university told ESPN's "Outside the Lines." No reason was given.

In some of the hundreds of DVDs of practices from 2010-12 being reviewed, there are at least a handful of instances in which Martelli -- the son of St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli -- grabs, throws balls, shoves and screams at players and yells at them using homophobic slurs, behavior similar to Rice's.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NCAA basketball videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday