Mike Rice speaks: 'I was an idiot, but I never abused anybody'

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Mike Rice is now talking about his experiences, his firing from Rutgers and his life after the fact. (USATSI)
Mike Rice is now talking about his experiences, his firing from Rutgers and his life after the fact. (USATSI)

Mike Rice is ready to talk.

Two media entities were granted access to Rice recently, and news of both of those interviews came about Wednesday morning. Rice spoke with ABC's "20/20" in an episode that will air Friday night. He was also subject to a lengthy feature in New York Times Magazine, and that piece is available on the Web now.

The most glaring quote from Rice comes from the Times' piece.

“Everything I've ever done is fight, scratch and claw,” he told me, “and now I have to sit back and take it, listen to people say I was abusing my players? I was an idiot, but I never abused anybody.”
From the beginning, Rice was clear he wasn't going to make any excuses for his behavior, and he didn't. But when your life has been reduced to a few minutes on YouTube and you've been living under a self-imposed gag order for two months, it's impossible to not want to explain yourself.
“When you look at those moments, they're ugly moments, there's no way of describing them any way else,” he said, adding, “Once every 20 practices doesn't make it that way every day.”

The 44-year-old Rice was fired from Rutgers April 3, a day after after video of him physically and verbally abusing players was made public. Some of the verbal language included the use of homophobic slurs. Rice spoke at a Nike Skills camp in late June, but for most of the past seven months, he's has remained out of the public eye and has not gone on record with any media. He also went through rehabilitation by working and traveling with John Lucas, a former NBA player and coach who's renowned for operating the John Lucas Athlete's Aftercare Program, a rehab facility based out of Houston.

Two days before the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season, the unemployed Rice is beginning to talk about his experience at Rutgers and what he's learned since early April.

"Having that taken away, your dream job ... and having it done in such a visible way ... and hurting the people closest to me ... it changes a person," Rice told Robin Roberts, per ABCNews.com, adding, "My first reaction, when I saw the tape was one of embarrassment, of shock, of sadness."

Rice's former team starts its season Friday, as Rutgers hosts Florida A&M.

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