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AAU team parents: Rice coaching, but not over the top, as reported

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

Mike Rice is coaching his daughter's team, but reports of volatility were overblown, according to parents. (USATSI)

Three parents who have daughters on former Rutgers coach Mike Rice's seventh-grade AAU team told CBSSports.com that the reports that he was crossing the line on Sunday at Holmdel (N.J.) High are inaccurate.

All three wished to have their identities anonymous in light of the recent events regarding Rice and his termination at Rutgers for comments and actions towards men's basketball players at Rutgers. Rice did not immediately respond to calls from CBSSports.com.

According to all three parents, Rice has been the head coach for his daughter's team, the New Jersey Shoreshots, for the past three seasons. There are nine girls, ages 12 or 13, on this year's team. The team played Saturday morning and twice on Sunday.

"It's a total fabrication," said one father, who was on the bench with Rice all weekend. "It's not true. Was he yelling and screaming at the refs and the girls? No way."

"He's very passionate," added another father of a 12-year-old on the team. "He's been wonderful to my daughter. Nothing happened that's even close to what's been written. Someone's obviously trying to sensationalize, and people are trying to make up untruths.

"There have been no issues with Mike Rice and how he treats the girls. Or what he says to them. Sure, he's tough on them at times -- but one minute he's getting on them, and the next he's hugging them. They are a wonderful family, and we've known them for three years. He's passionate, and my daughter benefits from that passion."

Traci Moore, a mother of one of the players, told the New York Post that the reports of Rice acting over the top were not accurate. The firestorm began when Brian Geltzeiler of hoopscritic.com tweeted that Rice told one of the girls, "I can't even look at you."

A former Temple basketball player, Mike Vreeswyk, also tweeted that Rice "was a lunatic yesterday [Saturday] at Stone Bridge Middle School as well."

All three parents told CBSSports.com that wasn't the case.

"I'm not sure how anyone could have heard this, anyway," one said. "The bench was far away from where people sat. It's not like someone could have been behind the bench and heard exactly what he said."

Rice, 44, was fired this month after video was made public showing him pushing and kicking players and using gay slurs in practice. Rutgers assistant Jimmy Martelli and athletic director Tim Pernetti subsequently resigned. Rice apologized for his actions in an interview with local reporters outside of his New Jersey home.

However, the parents said they have not seen that side of Rice while he has been coaching their daughters.

"They love playing for him," the third father told CBSSports.com. "Nothing out of the ordinary takes place. I was there all weekend, and nothing happened. There were no expletives. There was nothing over the line. There was nothing egregious, nothing demeaning and nothing that jeopardizes the safety of the children.

"Whoever claims he was out of control is wrong. Did he coach? Did he talk to the kids in the huddles? Sure, that's in his blood. But anyone who is trying to say he was a monster on the sidelines, that's just not true. We've never seen that -- and we certainly didn't see that this weekend."

 
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