Around the Nation (April 3): Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice fired after video released (with video)

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

BASKETBALL

Rutgers fires Rice after video release

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers has fired basketball coach Mike Rice after a videotape aired showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs during practice.

The videotape, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, has prompted scores of outraged social media comments as well as sharp criticism from Gov. Chris Christie. The head of the New Jersey Assembly called for Rice to be fired.

With mounting criticism on a state and national level, the school decided to take action on Wednesday, relieving Rice of his duties after three largely unsuccessful seasons at the Big East school. There will be a national search to replace him.

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in November. After hiring independent investigators to analyze the tape, he suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000.

UNM gives Alford until April 29 to pay $1M buyout

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico is giving former head coach Steve Alford until the end of April to pay a $1 million buyout.

Alford announced last Saturday that he would be leaving the Lobos to take the head coaching job at UCLA.

Alford had just agreed to a new 10-year contract with New Mexico that would have been worth some $2 million a year. Under the new agreement, if Alford took another job prior to April 1, 2015, he or his new employer would owe UNM $1 million.

UCLA officials said earlier this week that Alford is responsible for the buyout, but that UCLA would work out the details.

New Mexico spelled out the terms of the buyout in a letter sent to Alford on Wednesday. The letter was obtained by the Albuquerque Journal.

Craig Neal takes over at New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Stopping at times to choke back tears during an introductory news conference Wednesday, Craig Neal stepped in to replace his childhood friend, Steve Alford, as the New Mexico men's basketball coach.

Neal noted he and Alford had worked together for 10 years. Alford ended that partnership Saturday when he accepted the job at UCLA after six years at New Mexico.

Now Neal steps in for his first head coaching position.

Many members of the community lobbied for Neal, as did former and current players.

Minnesota hires FIU's Richard Pitino

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota has picked 30-year-old up-and-comer Richard Pitino to take over for Tubby Smith.

The university announced on Wednesday evening that it has reached an agreement to bring Pitino to the Golden Gophers after one season at Florida International. Athletic director Norwood Teague says full terms of the contract will be finished later in the week.

In his lone season at Florida International, Pitino led the Panthers to an 18-14 record, the school's first winning season in 13 years. He turns 31 in September, fitting the profile of the young, up-and-comer that Teague has preferred to hire in the past.

Smith was fired last week after six seasons at Minnesota. He was hired at Texas Tech on Monday.

AUTO RACING

Denny Hamlin hoping for early recovery

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- If it was up to him, Denny Hamlin would get in his car and race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Instead, he'll watch from pit road as Mark Martin drives his race car. And that might be the most painful part of the fractured vertebra that has temporarily sidelined Hamlin.

He was injured in a crash on the last lap of the March 24 race at California racing with Joey Logano for the win. He is expected to be sidelined at least five races, but Hamlin says he is targeting the April 27 race at home track Richmond for his return.

In the meantime, he doesn't blame former teammate Logano for his injury. He does, however, hold some resentment toward Logano for wrecking him on the final lap.

Bowyer lands Gander Mountain sponsorship

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A national outdoors retailer calling for responsible gun ownership will sponsor Clint Bowyer's car for the NASCAR Sprint Cup NRA 500 in Texas next week.

Gander Mountain Co. said Wednesday it will sponsor Bowyer's car in the April 13 race. The paint scheme will include the words: "With Rights Comes Responsibility; Secure Your Firearms."

Bowyer drives the No. 15 car for Michael Waltrip Racing, which for the season-opening Daytona 500 had Waltrip driving a Toyota with a paint scheme supporting a relief fund for victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Conn.

FOOTBALL

49ers sign cornerback Asomugha for one year

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco 49ers made it official with free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, signing him to a one-year contract Wednesday that could pay him as much as $3 million.

Asomugha and the reigning NFC champions reached agreement on the deal Tuesday.

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