The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 4, 2013

Rice's abrasive nature apparent early on in career

(Continued)

Coleman declined an interview request by The Associated Press on Wednesday but in a statement called Rice's tenure with the Colonials "successful."

"He is obviously an intense coach, and his passion for the game was mirrored by our student-athletes on the court," Coleman said. "The behavior on the video is quite unfortunate, but it is not indicative of Coach Rice during his tenure at RMU."

The incident did not stop Rice's phone from ringing after the tournament. In fact, Rice was a candidate at Fordham not long after the loss to the Wildcats, and it appeared the New York school was seriously interested in him.

There was a fit, of course, because Rice played point guard at Fordham and he had strong recruiting ties in the New York metropolitan area, as evidenced by Woodall's commitment. Ultimately, though, Fordham went in a different direction and hired Tom Pecora away from Hofstra.

Rice was content at that point to return to the Colonials and push toward another NCAA tournament appearance. But things change quickly in the coaching business, and when Rutgers had to relieve Fred Hill, Jr., from his duties as coach after an incident at a Scarlet Knights baseball game, athletic director Tim Pernetti looked up Rice.

Within days, Rice was hired — just like that. Turned down by an Atlantic 10 school in Fordham, and content to stay at an NEC school in Robert Morris, suddenly he was in the Big East with a dream job.

Too soon? Perhaps. After all, most Big East coaches do not land there immediately after stops in the NEC, but Rutgers looked at Rice and saw the man who could turn the perennially underachieving program around.

Well, it never happened. Though Rice and the Scarlet Knights had brief bouts with prosperity, including a dominating 62-39 win over Pitt and his former boss on Jan. 11, 2012, mediocrity ruled the day in Piscataway, N.J. And there were more lowlights — like a disheartening 56-52 loss to St. Peter's on opening night this season at home — than highlights.

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