Mike Rice did spend the weekend coaching his 12-year-old daughter's AAU team.
That is 100 percent true.
"He was coaching his daughter," former Temple player Mike Vreeswyk told me Monday, less than 48 hours after stumbling upon Rice. So there's your first-hand account. Mike Rice is back in coaching, although, obviously, at a much lower level.
Whether the fired Rutgers coach was "acting like a mad man," as it was reported on Twitter via a second-hand source, or, you know, simply coaching is up for debate. But that Rice was on the sideline guiding girls in New Jersey is not debatable. He's been coaching his daughter's team for awhile and never stopped, even after videos surfaced earlier this month of him grabbing, pushing and cussing players while throwing basketballs at them and using gay slurs. The clips were awful and led to Rice's termination (and, by extension, the forced resignation of athletic director Tim Pernetti, who initially only suspended Rice for three games after viewing the clips late last year). CBS Evening News, The Today Show and every other non-sports mainstream TV program picked up on the story. If not for North Korea considering bombing us, Rice might've been the lead.
So he's a big deal.
And anything he now does is a big deal.
And when he coaches girls, yeah, that's a big deal, too.
But I can't get on board with the narrative that this is obviously wrong and something that must be stopped. Is it surprising? Yeah, it's surprising. Had I strolled into a gym to watch my nieces play and encountered the guy I'd just seen on CNN, make no mistake, I would've been surprised. I would've tweeted it. But I wouldn't have taken to my computer and demanded that he be removed from this position like I wrote that Rice must be removed from his position at Rutgers minutes after the tape surfaced of him grabbing, pushing and cussing players while throwing basketballs at them and using gay slurs.
This is different than that.
This feels more like none of our business.
Rice was an employee of a prestigious university when he abused players and used words that shouldn't be used on a campus, especially on a campus where a gay student committed suicide less than three years ago after being outed by supposed friends. Rutgers had to fire him. Rice was suddenly a public relations nightmare, and his ability to effectively do his job was compromised. The school had no choice.
This is so different.
Rice isn't making millions of dollars coaching a girls AAU team, he isn't representing an institution of higher learning, and his actions aren't hidden behind closed doors. Whatever he's doing, he's doing it in front of the parents of the players he's coaching, which was never the case at Rutgers. So if the parents of the players are OK with Rice coaching -- and they must be or else he wouldn't be coaching, right? -- why should I or anybody else unrelated to the situation care one way or another?
Answer: We shouldn't.
Rice has paid for his inappropriate actions in a major way. He lost his job. He lost a fortune. He lost his reputation. And he admittedly embarrassed his wife and children, which nearly brought him to tears during his first and only pseudo press conference. I'm not sure what else anybody wants from the man.
He said he's sorry.
I'm OK with moving on and letting him move on, too.
So maybe Rice actually spent part of the weekend "yelling @ both refs and kids" like Brian Geltzeiler tweeted he did Sunday, or maybe he didn't. I wasn't there. I didn't see it. But I do know this: My son is 10 and he's played baseball, soccer, basketball and football, and I've never attended a game where the coaches on both sides didn't yell at both refs and kids. It's common practice. So painting Rice as a maniac simply for reportedly doing that seems silly and unfair, provided he actually did it in the first place.
Either way, whatever.
Mike Rice coaches his daughter's AAU team.
Why should I be bothered by that if the other players' parents don't seem to be?