As you have no doubt heard already, Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was fired this morning following a report that he verbally and physically abused Scarlet Knights players from 2010-12. Perhaps the most damning part of the report is that there is actual video of Rice getting physical with players, throwing basketballs at them, and shouting obscenities. ESPN was the first to break the scandal as part of their Outside the Lines segment.
Terrible. But what does it have to do with Rhody? Well as you may recall, URI transfer Gilvydas Biruta came to Kingston by way of Rutgers, and played under Rice from 2010-12. Biruta was forced to sit out this past season, but has two years of eligibility left for the Rams starting next year. And he’s expected to be an absolute stud for the Rhody, so much so that many fans are wondering… just how the heck did they land this kid? The obvious answer is that he played under Dan Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep for two seasons, so this is just a simple reunion with an old coach. But the ESPN piece indicates that there may be more to Biruta’s transfer story. This from the report:
Eric Murdock, an ex-NBA player and a former director of player development for the Scarlet Knights, told “Outside the Lines” that Rice’s “outrageous” behavior had caused at least three players to transfer from the team, including forward Gilvydas Biruta, who transferred to Rhode Island prior to last season.
Biruta, who was born in Lithuania but played high school basketball in New Jersey, described his treatment.
“He would throw his cap at me and he would call me many names,” he said of Rice. “The adjectives were creative. They were mean words.”
Biruta said Rice’s insults were often not about his game but about him personally. “If you’re going to criticize me as a basketball player, I’m OK with that,” he said, “but he would criticize me as a person.”
On a 30-minute video Murdock said he showed (athletic director Tim) Pernetti and other Rutgers officials in December, Rice is seen hurling a ball from point-blank range just passed Biruta’s head, shoving him and repeatedly swearing at him. At another point, Rice hurls a ball that strikes Biruta’s knee. He appears momentarily hurt and has to sit out a play.
“The one thing I hated,” Murdock said of Rice, “he would always talk about ‘Lithuanian this, Lithuanian that,’ talk about where he’s from, ‘soft-ass Lithuanian b—-,’ ‘soft-ass Lithuanian p—-.’ His nickname was basically ‘Lithuanian f—-t.'”
Biruta said the main reason he left Rutgers was because of Rice’s treatment. “Mostly it was because of the way he was leading the team,” he said. “I didn’t think that was a way to lead.”
Truly despicable. Biruta tweeted out that he did enjoy his time at Rutgers, a classy move for sure. One thing is for sure, he will be welcomed by Rhody fans with open arms. Especially now that we know his entire ordeal.