Buono: Further investigation necessary after coach’s dismissal

NEW BRUNSWICK – Democratic gubernatorial contender state Sen. Barbara Buono says a legislative hearing into many of the unanswered questions surrounding the fired Rutgers head basketball coach may be the “necessary next step” for state officials to take.

Buono said during a news conference near Rutgers University’s campus center this afternoon that the college’s board of governors should investigate whether others at the university were aware of former Coach Mike Rice’s controversial coaching style.

Rice was fired today after ESPN aired video of him physically and verbally attacking his players, including hurling homophobic slurs at them.

“I take this very personally,” said Buono, explaining she is a Rutgers alumna.

“When I viewed that tape it was a ‘shock the conscience’ moment,” she said. “It’s a betrayal of university standards.”

The Rutgers Board of Governors should investigate when other university officials were made aware of Rice’s conduct to decide whether other officials should be held accountable, Buono said.

Rice was suspended for three games without pay and fine $50,000 after the university’s athletic director was made aware of the videos in December, according to reports.

“Legislative hearings will be the necessary next step,” said Buono, explaining if questions remained unanswered then lawmakers should investigate.

Prior to Buono’s appearance, members of Garden State Equality held a news conference demanding an independent investigation to examine why university officials “sat on” the information about Rice’s behavior.

“This morning, Coach Rice was fired. That’s not good enough,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality.

“Rutgers has a duty to lead by example,” he said. “I’m shocked that this happened here.”

Stevenson called for an independent investigation over the matter, explaining bullying and homophobic slurs should not be tolerated from within an institution that has been “under the microscope” following the suicide of a gay student, Tyler Clementi, that grabbed national headlines several years ago.