Mike Rice suspended, fined $50K

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice has been suspended three games without pay and fined $50,000 for a violation of athletic department policy, the school announced Thursday.

The suspension is related to inappropriate behavior and language, and does not involve any NCAA violations.

"Mike will not be permitted to do anything. He'll be removed from the program. He won't be able to be active in his role as head basketball coach inside or outside the university," athletic director Tim Pernetti said. "The suspension for this period of time and these games is a complete removal from the program."

On a conference call with reporters, Pernetti indicated Rice's transgressions occurred during practice and involved players but declined to go into further detail.

"I was made aware of some things within the last couple of weeks. We commenced a thorough, lengthy and fair investigation and this was the result of that investigation," Pernetti said. "There was obviously some things that are not to the Rutgers' standard that we evaluated and decided upon."

Rice also issued a statement through the school.

"Since becoming a coach at the age of 21, I have taken great pride in not only helping young men learn the game of basketball but also in teaching them about character, respect and hard work," Rice said. "To the extent that my conduct has ever been in contrast with those principles, I have failed my players -- and myself -- and I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the terms of my suspension. I will learn from my mistakes and I will become a better coach, teacher and role model.

"I sincerely apologize to our players, both past and present; to our incredible assistant coaches and staff; to President (Robert) Barchi, the board of governors and director of athletics Tim Pernetti for their belief in me; to the university faculty, staff and student body who represent the greatness of RU and to our Scarlet Knight fans who provide so much support to our teams. My commitment to becoming a better man and coach is only matched by my passion to make Rutgers basketball a great source of pride for the community."

Associate head coach David Cox will run the team in Rice's absence. Rice is scheduled to return to the bench for the Scarlet Knights' Big East opener at No. 4 Syracuse on Jan. 2.

"I think times have changed," Cox said. "We probably as coaches, as adults, have to come a little bit further to meet some of these young men that we're working with in this day and age."

Both 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."

Rutgers (6-2) defeated George Washington 68-65 on Tuesday at home. Rice, in his third season, has a 35-37 record at the school. He came to Rutgers after a very successful three-year stint at Robert Morris, which included back-to-back appearances in the NCAA tournament.

"As a team, this is a time for us to come together," Cox said. "Mike Rice is the reason that many of us are here. … We support him 1,000 percent."

"It's something that we have to adapt to," Johnson said. "We're all in Coach Rice's corner. Me and my teammates are gonna come together, and play as hard as we can for Coach Cox."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report